Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Amari and the Night Brothers – Book Details
TITLE – Amari and the Night Brothers
SERIES – Supernatural Investigations, book #1
AUTHOR – B.B. Alston
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2021
PAGE COUNT – 416
MY RATING – 4.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.41 of 5
What It Is About
The following information is classified, as it refers to a location that handles several million very well-kept secrets.
When her older brother Quinton goes missing, 13-year-old Amari Peters would do anything to get him back. But she doesn’t even have the first clue where to start looking.
But then she gets an enigmatic message from Quinton and finds a mysterious briefcase under his bed. And suddenly his secretive behavior and disappearance make much more sense.
Turns out – Quinton was a member of the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs – a secret organization that makes sure the magical creatures, such as magicians, boogiemen, dwarves, yetis and mermaids, stay hidden from the humans. And he nominated Amari for tryouts to become a part of the organization herself.
As exciting and scary as this new world is, it might also be Amari’s only chance to find out what happened to Quinton. But with an evil magician trying to overrun the whole supernatural world and the other trainees thinking Amari might be helping him, things soon get more than a little complicated…
Amari and the Night Brothers – My Review
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Is this book really a debut? Is this really how the first attempt at writing a novel goes for some people? And I had a lot of luck with debuts in the past year or so, but they still manage to surprise me.
Amari and the Night Brothers is one of those middle grades that had been everywhere lately. And middle grades are not exactly my go-to type of books, but this one has been recommended to me so many times, I just had to see what the hype was all about.
And let me just tell you straight away – it did not disappoint.
The Bureau of Supernatural Affairs is the link between the known world and what is hidden. We are charged with keeping the secret.
First of all, I love urban fantasies. I love books that place all the magic and creatures into our own world and make you feel like someday you may turn a corner and run into something fantastical.
Also, the need for secrecy adds a whole other layer to any story and makes everything even more mysterious and intriguing. And this book did a great job covering both those aspects.
Plus, this was such a well-written story. The narration was simple and effective. The pacing and the flow were just right. The whole thing was so easy to sink into.
Trolls and sphinxes, mermaids and oddities you could see with your own eyes and still not believe—these and countless more dwell in our towns and walk our streets. One might be your neighbor or even your favorite teacher.
I loved the world Alston created. A bunch of fantasy beings walking our streets every day. A secret organization dedicated to preserving the magical part of the world hidden from humans. The headquarters building with talking elevators and hidden departments and hallways that may or may not lead where they say they do.
It reminded me a bit of Men in Black. Maybe with a bit of Spy Kids thrown in there as well. But at the same time, it was very much authentic, telling its own unique story.
In the end, we are all bound by our choices.
And the characters… From eccentric teachers and self-absorbed legacy kids to an actual weredragon struggling with shifting into her dragonly nature. From politics to prejudices. The notorious villains and celebrated heroes. The social and power hierarchy.
Everyone in this society gets their biggest talent magically enhanced so that they can use their new powers to maintain order and fight against the bad guys. Which makes everything even more interesting and raises the stakes to impossible heights.
“Even the supernatural world has its secret societies.”
And Amari was such a gem of an MC to follow. She is a black girl from a low-income neighborhood, raised by a single mom, and her initiation for a Bureau trainee doesn’t exactly go as planned.
So there’s more than one excuse for people to frown upon her presence at the Bureau. And boy, do they take advantage.
But Amari has a goal that’s important enough to push her through all the bad encounters – she needs to find her brother. And she is a smart, brave, determined girl willing to do whatever it takes to get Quinton back home.
But she will soon find out that there are plenty of things even the members of this secret world don’t know.
My shoulders droop. I thought for sure that coming here would finally give me some real answers about Quinton, but it’s just as big a mystery in the supernatural world as it is back home.
And then, just the wow moment of realizing this world might be much different and richer than it looks at first glance. We get to know everything about it through Amari’s perspective, who is, just like us, a newbie in the supernatural world. That made the whole thing even more adventurous.
This is also a story about accepting who you really are and not letting it shape you into a mold. About finding your inner strength and realizing it’s up to you to decide how you are going to use the powers you have at your disposal.
I raise an eyebrow and add talking elevators to my fast-growing list of things that are actually things.
Amari and the Night Brothers is an exciting, magical, compelling book full of smart twists and unexpected turns. At the same time, the story managed to preserve the simple humanity of the characters and it stayed relatable to the very end.
Through all the fantastical things happening to and around her, Amari stayed just a kid the whole time; just a girl who misses her brother very much. That’s where the true magic of this story lies.
I’m really glad I’ve read this book and I can only recommend it to anyone who even remotely enjoys this type of stories. I hope to read soon the second book in the series, Amari and the Great Game. The Bureau already started to feel like home, and I can’t wait to see where the story takes Amari next…