Cover Image: Wings of Ebony

Wings of Ebony

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Member Reviews

Rue is bad-ass and she stands for the right things, despite being trapped on a magical island, our demi-God protagonist stands up for the people she loves so much. Wings of Ebony brings magic to real-life crisis and danger and is the most realistic way possible.

The characters are all very likable, the plot flows mercilessly and the representation is on point. Looking forward to the sequel already.
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Such a great read for the YA Fantasy crew! I’m not big on good genre but I highly recommend! Did I mention this novel is a Project Lit title! Culturally relevant and aspiring! This novel is what our Black girls need.
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So. Good. And I cannot wait for the sequel, to see what happens with these characters! I also really loved the family ties, it was so good to see that. The world-building was awesome, especially as it was set in modern times. I will highly recommend!
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I love love love the use of racism and colonialism, it was immediate, in your face, and unapologetic. Rue embraced both her humanity and her magic, and it was beautiful to see.
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At first, I was confused reading this book and I can't say I fully got into it, but then again I also did not have a bad time reading it. The story was interesting and the characters were good and I think a lot of people will find something in this book.
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I have seen Wings of Ebony by J. Elle all over Bookstagram. The cover really grabbed my attention and after reading the synopsis I had to read it. 

Wings of Ebony starts a year after Rue and Tasha’s mother is murdered. Rue hasn’t seen her younger sister Tasha since then because they were separated. Tasha went with her father’s side of the family and Rue was whisked away to Ghizon. Ghizon is a hidden island full of people with magic. Her father, who she never met, is one of those magic wielders. Not only is Rue the only half magic, half-human there, but besides her father, she is the only black person. When she sees her sister and her hood, East Row, for the first time in a year, she realizes that it is a lot worse than it was before. And she notices that black kids she went to school with, who had a good head on their shoulders, have either been killed or participating in things that are out of their norm. When she finds out who is behind this she knows she has to put an end to it before it ruins her hood.

I got the ARC for this book and was so excited to start it. After about 6 days I was having a hard time getting into it. So when I saw that the audiobook was released and Bahni Turpin was the narrator I knew I had to listen to the audio.. I’m glad I did. I was able to connect to the characters a lot better through the audiobook. I didn’t dislike the book, but I also didn’t have the same reaction to it as most of my bookstagram friends did. The book was too short and felt rushed at times. I know there will be a second book, so I am glad we get to learn more about the world and these characters. 

I hate that I didn’t love this book, but I just didn’t. But as I said earlier, many people did so I recommend it.
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I am typically not a fan of fantasy novels but J. Elle has me hooked! This will be a popular choice by my students. I will be purchasing multiple copies for my high school library! I am looking forward to the sequel!!
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Still reeling from her mother's death and being whisked away to a foreign fantasy land against her will by her father, Rue has escaped back to her old stomping grounds in search of her little sister, Tasha. In Ghizon she's an outsider among gray skinned beings who are nothing like her community back home. East Row gets a bad rep but she loves her neighborhood and would do anything to protect it. Lately it's like a war zone with people dying left and right and when a dangerous gang targets her sis she knows what she needs to do.  

Fast paced, compellingly readable and with characters you become invested with, this is an AWESOME read!  #NetGalley #WingsofEbony
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I truly enjoyed reading this one. From the start I fell in love with the characters, in the middle I was riveted by the plot, and in the end I was left desperate for the sequel!

A quick summary:
Our main character, Rue is swept away to a magical land by her biological father after her mother is killed in a shooting. In a twist on the typical “suddenly you have magic” trope, Rue would honestly rather go back to her life in reality with her sister. When she risks a trip back to see her sister for the first time in a year, she sets of a cycle of events that brings to light some dark secrets of this seemingly utopian society he father brought her to. 

What I loved:
Right from the beginning I adored Rue. She is fierce and sassy and I afraid to speak her mind, but still flawed in believable ways that keep her human. She has an amazing sense of what is right and is willing to risk herself to seek justice. The world was interesting and the premise and plot were unique and very entertaining. The racial commentary and calling out of the “white tears” mentality when suddenly being made aware of injustice was handled masterfully and one of the most powerful scenes in this book. 

One thing I didn’t love:
I loved hearing about Ghizon, but I felt like we didn’t get nearly enough detail about it. I wanted to really be able to go to this place in my head and had trouble doing that because I needed more descriptive detail. 

Overall thoughts:
This one is an easy 4/5 for me. I’m already looking forward to the next one and highly recommend you put this on your list if you haven’t read it yet.
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From the beginning of the novel, Rue's voice was so clear, distinct, and unwavering. It felt as if I had a friend recounting a wild story to me that was infused with their personality while also making complete and total sense. I appreciated how J. Elle didn't compromise on the use and frequency of the slang throughout the novel, making it commonplace and a natural part of the dialogue and prose. Rue's voice has an authentic and robust feel to it that makes you just want to be her friend immediately because you know she'd be there no matter what, which is a persistent theme throughout the novel.
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If Wings of Ebony caught your eye because it had a beautiful cover, rest assured that the outside is just as good as the inside. Get ready to read your new favorite YA.

YA fantasy these days is a dime a dozen, and after awhile, you start to see certain trends that can feel like clone stamps- even when the story is inspired from non western cultures or tries something different. The Gilded Ones is a case study on how a story can use tropes effectively without downing in them, because this story is completely original.

Our lovely main character is the product of her environment, and her growth happens slowly as she begins to engage with the bigger world outside of her own city. Her journey of self discovery is a beautiful character slow burn. The side characters are all beautifully written and woven into their oppressive world in a way that makes you instantly protective of them.. The city is beautifully crafted, dark, and biting. It's a violent world of blunt offering. There are several moments in this story that will give you chills, even within the first few chapters of the book.
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To start off, I loved and enjoyed this book; I am so glad I read it and would absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining and impactful fantasy novel.

The writing was extremely well done, I feel like Elle truly captured the essence of characters this age, and I loved reading and seeing things through Rue’s perspective. I enjoy books where much of the world building is done by seeing through the eyes of the main character, and that’s how it was in this story. 

I feel the magic system was quite simple, and that is probably the only criticism I have. I prefer more complex and layered magic systems, though I know many readers prefer straightforward magic systems that are easier to follow, so I wouldn’t necessarily consider this to be a negative, more of a subjective thing. 

Bullets don’t have names. But if they did, chances are one would have mine. Or someone brown-skinned like me.”

I absolutely adored the relationship between Rue and her sister. I love to read about sibling relationships in books and I was so happy to see the portrayal of one in this story. 

The novel is quite short, at least compared to most fantasy novels, but it is able to pack a punch in a very fast paced and action packed plot. It’s the kind of storyline that has you on the edge of your seat, flipping through the pages (or swiping, if you were reading through an ebook as I was) as fast as you can. The storyline as a whole was easy to follow, which I appreciate. 

The entire cast of characters were well written and easy to fall in love with, but Rue really stole the show. She was a protagonist who I quickly attached to, and I feel she’s one who it is easy for readers to root for. You get inside her head and see all her emotions and thought processes, and that makes her feel so real. Her strength is so much more than just her magic, and I loved that. 

The way that Rue was brave, and we know she’s powerful, but she still sometimes hesitates, or questions herself, is such a raw quality. It made her such a well fleshed out and layered character. 

Moms raised a diamond… “And diamonds don’t crack.

This is the kind of book that makes me feel like maybe I’ve been missing out on urban fantasy. While I haven’t read many, this has probably some of the best world-building I’ve ever seen in the genre. 

There is quite a bit of commentary in this book, subjects such as appropriation and social injustice; some of it is subtle and all of it is very well done and integrated beautifully into the story. 

I think J. Elle is an incredibly talented and gifted writer and I cannot wait to see what she puts out in the future. This was such a strong debut and I would definitely recommend this book to any fan of fantasy, or just any fan of good books.
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“Bullets don’t have names. But if they did, chances are one would have mine. Or someone brown-skinned like me.”

Where do I even begin? I finished this yesterday and I still can’t find the right words to fathom how good this book was. Like, literally! I am so impressed by J. Elle’s debut novel.

Like the title of this review already said, this is one of the best written fantasies I’ve read in a while. It’s just so raw and full of emotion. I could literally feel the main character, Rue, her feelings in my bones because of the way the author described things.

This book is then, of course, filled with lots of beautiful quotes. The one I decided to share is actually the opening line of this novel. It immediately sucked me into the story and a few hours after that, I already finished the book. I was fully absorbed in the story.

But that’s not all I loved about this book, of course. It not only deals with important subjects, its plot is also just fantastic in my opinion! I decided to go into this book pretty much blindly and looking back on that decision, I’m pretty glad I did that? I don’t know, it just really, really added to me loving it so much.

It’s not hard to feel for these characters, either. From the beginning I was empathising with Rue and quickly more characters were added to that list. We got to see many sides of them and I really feel like they were so well-crafted and most of all: realistic.

As always, I will not be talking about the representation too much since this is about a black girl and I’m white. What I can say, though, is that reading this book made me think of the first time I read The Hate U Give years ago. Which is quite a compliment. This story just really feels like something big and aah, I love it so much! I hope everything was represented correctly, too.

When you hear me talk about a book like this, it must not be a surprise when I tell you I absolutely recommend this to everyone! It was just so good and I can’t wait for the sequel! This fantastic debut gets a 5/5 from me!
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4 stars = Great! Might re-read.

This new fantasy novel had a slow start for me. The author does a great job starting in the middle of the action, and using flashbacks to fill in details and world-building, but it takes awhile to get the full system in place for the reader. By the halfway point, where the two settings click into one story, I was hooked. This story stands up well on its own, but there are some unanswered questions and some justice still to be served, so a sequel is obviously in development.

One of the gifts of this story is a confrontation between Rue and Bri over race. Frankly, it was painful to read. But I think it does an exceptional job of defining racial issues from our world using the magical systems and situations of the novel. This would be fantastic for book groups, both teen and adult. (Language, violence)
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This book was so amazing. I had been watching this book since I found out about it in October or so of last year. 
I can’t wait to see why else’s J. Elle writes: I know it’s gonna be good!
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DNF'd at around 40%.  The synopsis sounded good (that's why I requested it), but the MC and plot weren't interesting enough to keep me engaged.  The narration also sounded a lot to me like Nyxia and The Hate U Give.  I get it that the MC's are black, but it felt too forced to me.  Additionally, at 40%, I would have expected much more description/ explanation about the 'gods' world, and so far there were only a handful of flashbacks which didn't really show much.  Definitely not enough to keep me interested.
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*Spoiler free review* I throughly enjoyed this book. This other does such an amazing job showing worldly current problems through writing. This book opens our eyes to many current problems we face, while still tying in a magical fantasy that leaves you reeling for more. If you like magic, mystery and  ancient gods  then this is the book for you!
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2.5 Stars

I think this book could've shone better if it was longer. Which would've given more time for the story to develop. The beginning of the story was rushed and the pacing was off for the entire book. Towards the middle of the book when the story began to get intriguing, that's when they pacing issues became really prominent. The setting kept switching from one place to another and there was no cool of time between one action scene that ended in disaster for the characters to another scene. The resolution was also very rushed and unbelievable. The way Rue just handed out Ghizon technology to the people on her row and used that to solve the problem was one of the most unbelievable things. And I don't think the casual way that Rue exposed the magic at the end to the entire world was a good idea, considering the fact that her people at Ghizon worked so hard to hide themselves originally. 

However, Rue's dedication to her family was very admirable and her drive was really easy to root for. The other characters while not fleshed out entirely was enjoyable for the time they were on the page. The themes of racism, and white people making themselves the victim in the Ghizoni setting were well handled.
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This debut novel surprised me. I went into this book blind and I did not expect it to tackle such hard-hitting themes, such as systemic oppression, white shame, and colonization to name a few, but J. Elle does so in such a meticulous way that the themes are heavily explored and her passion seeps through the pages. I absolutely love how Elle managed to weave a harsh truth with a wonderful and encouraging story with a strong message.

For my full review, please visit my blog at
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Rue is a seventeen year old girl whose young life has seen some tragedies, the most devastating being the death of her beloved mother which leads to the separation from her sister Tasha once Tasha goes to live with her father's family. Rue, on the other hand, is forced to unwilling go live with her godlike father, whom in her mind has abandoned her, on the magical island of Ghizon. So the reader is introduced to Rue when she returns to Houston on the one year anniversary of her mother's death to be a distant comfort to Tasha, because according to Ghizon rules, she can only see but not touch her sister, to gauge how she is fairing. However, after a peculiar chain of events, Rue has no choice but to touch Tasha revealing her newly acquired magical powers, when Rue must save her life. Want to know if this story ends well, pick up a copy of Wings of Ebony and read this enjoyable book for yourself.

I truly was entertained by this book, it is my first urban fantasy, I still had some of the issues I have with most fantasies which is keeping track of the magic system and visualizing the world building, but that is not the fault of J. Elle, she describes life in Ghizon and Houston vividly and her action scenes are very descriptive. I adored Rue's character. Usually I am not a big fan of gratuitous cursing, yet this occurs primarily because the reader is privvy to Rue's inner thoughts or conversation with her peers, so I was able tolerate it more, not a problem I suspect teens would have with the book, but the range of emotions that Rue expressed utilizing profanity such as love, vulnerability, fear, frustration, joy and anger, is what really left a lasting impression with me most. I really enjoyed seeing a Black teen be able to put her emotions on display and be the heroine in her own story. In addition, I also really liked the mix of magical godlike powers and the use of technology. J Elle did a great job tackling some of the issues young urban kids have with fantasy, such as the rituals or inequality in these kingdoms, as seen through Rue's eyes. I very clearly want to state that even though I believe Wings of Ebony will strongly resonate with urban teens, make no mistake this book can also be enjoyed by most demographics who enjoy fantasy, with evergreen themes we all experience in our everyday lives, like love of family, disappointment in loved ones, caring about community, not belonging, experiencing tragedy, and wanting to save the day. I rate Wings of Ebony a solid  4 stars. I look forward to the next installment.
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