Monday, May 27, 2019

Shelf Awareness--Nocturna

YA Review: Nocturna

Nocturna by Maya Motayne (Balzer + Bray, 480p., ages 12-up, 9780062842732)

Grief-stricken Prince Alfehr is all too aware that the loss of his brother, Dezmin, has robbed the people of San Cristobal of their "true king." Dez disappeared into an endless "dark void" in a failed coup, but Alfie, the reluctant crown prince, is sure his brother isn't dead. In hopes of getting Dez back "alive and well and ready to take the throne," Alfie has been studying "every text of illegal magic" he can find.

At an illicit card game to win four more "forbidden" books, Alfie meets Finn, a loner and thief with powerful magic. Finn steals the game's prize and Alfie uses his propio (unique magical gift) to trick her and take the books for himself. Alfie's theft sets off a series of events that forces Finn to steal a "vanishing cloak" from the palace, where she witnesses Alfie's best friend, Luka, being poisoned. Alfie, trying desperately to save Luka, uses magic too powerful for his abilities and accidentally unleashes a "monstrous villain" from a children's tale. Finn reluctantly offers to help Alfie--she will work with him to trap the power of Sombra before this "god of the dark" can sweep the world into the "endless night" of Nocturna.

Using alternating narratives, mostly from the points of view of Alfie and Finn, two flawed but worthy characters, Motayne's debut Latinx fantasy is a thrilling ride through a rich, magical landscape. The Castallan Kingdom and its one-time Englassen conquerors ground the story in a familiar, but decidedly alternate, universe. Creative magical elements shine and readers will surely be delighted by Nocturna. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI.

Discover: In this Latinx YA fantasy, Prince Alfie and penniless thief Finn work together to keep the dark god, Sombra, from sweeping the world into endless night.

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