Cover Image: Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans

Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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DNF for now I got up to 60% of this book I just wasn't in the mood to read it at the time but at the time I do feel like this was a nice way to explore topics of family, belief systems and colonization to a middle grade audience.

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I enjoyed this one! This MG fantasy really gripped me from the beginning. The characters were really interesting and I was definitely invested in Adia's journey. I also liked the world building, the commentary about wealth, class, and history, and the impacts of colonization. I am definetly looking forward to the rest of the series!

My rating: 4.25 stars

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What a sparkling middle grade debut! I read the first few chapters and preordered immediately and forgot to review before it came out. Highly recommend for all middle grade adventure lovers of all ages!

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Wow, this was such a fun book! I absolutely loved the character development and the world-building, and the writing was just fantastic. I can't wait to read the second book in this series and dive right back into Adia's world!

(Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)

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Heck yeah, we need more middle-grade books centering on Afrofantasy. This will pair perfectly with Amari and The Night Brothers when we complete our African folktale unit.

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This is a really fun start to what appears to be a really promising middle grade trilogy. Adia is a really easy to root for protagonist, with some fun friends that will really draw in young readers. The afro-fantasy inspired world is well-built and easy to picture, but also clearly based in part on Isi Hendrix’s own Igbo-Nigerian heritage and the complex history of colonization. Depending, of course, on your own family you can choose how you want to have discussions surrounding it, but this could be a good start for some young readers. However, I think the young readers are going to be captivated by the magic school, the spirits, and the fast-paced adventure.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this book, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This is a promising start to a new middle grade fantasy series incorporating Nigerian mythology and white colonialism.

I really enjoyed this one and I'm interested to see where it goes from here.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this novel. 4/5 stars.

Look, yes, I know reading my ARCs that have been published for a while is just creating even more of a backlog but I feel bad if I don't read them?? ANYWAYS. This was an adorable but rather deep middle grade novel about colonization, especially through religion, destruction of indigenous populations, and colorism. While the plot is resolved toward the end, so much is left up in the air about what's next for Adia BUT I would also love to learn more about her, her lineage, the impacts of the Bright Father being destroyed, and more about the world.

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This book has everything I love most in fantasy, world building, character development, and a writing style that is beautiful and captivating. It is fast paced and perfect for middle grade readers, while also being different and original enough that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to an older audience as well.

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This book was fantastic! I loved the characters and fast-paced plot line. I love how this book turns the magical boarding school trope upside down. This school for shamans is in upheaval and the students are the WORST! Adia is called to action in a quest, not just to save Zaria from an evil entity, but to find out her true purpose and the truth about her own abilities. I can't wait to read more in this trilogy!

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Beautiful debut by Iri Hendrix!

I'll leave you to review the synopsis for yourself. In a note to the readers, the author quotes Desmond Tutu: "When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land."

Middle Grade. Fast-Paced. Found Family. Fantasy. With a deeper message behind the story (colonization and racism) - books like this remind me why I love fantasy so much! I laughed, I gasped. I cheered. If I had one critique, I would say the relationships Adia forms, although wonderful, appear sudden. The book is so fast-paced in its timeline, that, by the end of the book, when Adia references her found family and how much she loves them... it left me saying something like, "That's sweet, but you just met them." This aside, I believe this is the first book in a trilogy, and now that the world-building has developed, hopefully the author can explore these relationships at a deeper level. :)

"Obedience without question."

"It was a lot easier to see the world as you wanted to see it if you forced everyone who might tell you differently to be quiet."

I can't wait to share this with my littles!

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An amazing adventure! 12 year old Adia is such a relatable character. Even after facing so many difficulties she still wanted to better herself and ran away from home to try to do that. After realizing the Academy of the Shamans was not what she thought it was and discovering that the emperor is demon possessed, she agrees to help a goddess save the world. This is a great story about accepting the truth about oneself versus believing only what someone says about you. I enjoyed Adia's developing friendship with Thyme and am excited to read about what they get into next. A must have for middle grade classrooms!
Thanks NetGalley!

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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book ahead of publication date!

This fantasy adventure was delightful and unique. Adia was a great main character and kind of reminded me of a young Bree from Legendborn! In terms of finding her abilities and learning about her bloodlines and ancestors. The premise was similar to other middle grade fantasy adventure books, but had its own unique magic system and quests. Hats off for the originality!

There was a surprise twist that was excellent! Usually I pick up on these but it was done so well and I really enjoyed discovering this world through Adia's eyes. Side characters were excellent and quite well developed for book 1 in a series. Excellent world building.

Looking forward to reading more about Adia's adventures in the future! I think 3rd-7th graders will adore this.

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This is a solid MG Afrofantasy! A little heavy-handed with the themes at times, and a little sparse on descriptions, but I quite enjoyed the lore.

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Adia Kelbara is a lovely lady who learns to have confidence in herself as she embarks on an adventure with a goddess to help defeat a demon in this African inspired fantasy novel.

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Everyone thinks Adia is cursed. Everyone but Adia, that is. Just because she can memorize maps, and reads a lot of books, people think she’s different and should be avoided. But when Adia’s anger almost collapses her entire village, Adia realizes that they were right all along. She is cursed, but luckily she’s been offered a job at the Academy of Shamans, and while she’s there, she can probably get the curse removed. However, when she arrives, she learns that the school is nothing more than a sham, a place for rich young students to play at having powers, rather than actually having them. Believing she will be cursed forever, Adia then stumbles into a great secret, and into the adventure of a lifetime.

I received an advanced reading copy of Adia and the Circle of Shamans in exchange for an honest review.

Adia and the Circle of Shamans is a middle grade fantasy novel by Isi Hendrix. It’s a story that is described as an Afrofantasy, and despite its younger target audience, contains subjects such as colonialism and organized religion, described in such a way that would make sense for younger readers.

This was a very fun book. It really kept up a good pace the whole way through, and it felt like a huge adventure. Even in the quieter moments when Adia is just hanging around the Academy, there’s always an element of “anything can happen,” especially since the Academy itself is so infused by magic that it comes alive, and you’re never really sure what it’s going to do, whether it’s refuse to turn the stoves on or have entire walls fall apart and fly through the air. But Adia does explore beyond this school, and it was so fun getting to learn about other places in this wondrous land.

The characters were fun too. I liked Adia, and how smart and determined she was. She was a good character to follow. I also liked Nami, which might be a controversial opinion. I thought he was very complex, and despite everything (I’m trying so hard not to spoil anything here!) I liked his storyline. It just felt very realistic, and something I could see many people actually do. I wonder if we’ll see him in future books.

Oh yes, while the plot here is self-contained, and you could easily just read this book, I do believe this is meant to be a trilogy. I for sure plan on picking up the second and third books when they’re released, since I can’t wait to see more of this world that Hendrix has created.

Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans will be released on September 19. You can preorder your copy from Balzer + Bray here.

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans is the first in what appears to be a promising middle grade Afrofantasy. Pulling inspiration from Isi Hendrix’s own Igbo-Nigerian heritage, as well as the broader theme of colonization that has dominated the histories of most Black people raised in the West, I loved how this is a celebration of these traditions in spite of the long history of oppression, while also injecting that flavor into some familiar tropes, like the magic school.
Adia is a sympathetic protagonist, starting out orphaned and abused by her relatives, and not fitting in with her society. And while her origins are rather familiar to those who’ve read similar stories, I liked that there were little twists, like her getting a way into the magic school through getting work in the kitchens. She’s definitely a bit more of a reluctant chosen one, ending up on her quest a bit unwittingly, but her determination and self-confidence grows as she learns more about herself.
As a children’s adventure, it’s pretty compelling and fast–paced throughout. The first part does take a little time to set the chess pieces, but it’s pretty evenly paced from there and there’s very few moments of lull.
I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to future installments in the series. I recommend this to readers looking for a richly imagined African-inspired fantasy targeted toward young readers, that is also suitable for older audiences.

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Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans by Isi Hendrix is a middle grade fantasy with roots in Nigerian folklore.
Readers do not need to relate to an African experience to relate to Adia's character. The publisher promotion for this story says it is for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers and the School for Good and Evil. Yes, I can see how children who enjoyed those stories will also enjoy this one. BUT this story is not similar to either story. It stands on its own. I have no qualms about recommending this tale to anyone looking for an adventure featuring a "fish-out-of-water" 12-year-old discovering her magical talents.

12-year-old Adia is an orphaned girl being raised by her mother's stepsister. Her stepfamily blames her for the misfortune that comes to their family. They call her an "obanje" or a demon in a child's body because she never forgets anything she reads.
Her stepparents want her to stay and work at their farm and do not want her to leave to learn a trade as most children do at her age. Adia wants to leave the Shadowlands where she lives and go to work at a school for Shamans under the tutelage of their head chef. Of course, Adia finds a way!

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this creative and excellent story.

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I was drawn to this book because of the cover and for being an Academy/Magic with African Myth/Lore. I'm pleased that it seems to explore more than just the main character's personality. It seems to be fast-paced sometimes. So far it's a book that catches our attention from the first chapters, but the caricature of evil characters slowed me down.
I prefer a book that promotes unity and inclusiveness and does not promote discord with generalizations of characters associating cartoonish evil personalities to specific physical traits, but I get the point to give us the unsettling and cruelty of colonialism.) I prefer to focus on the magic of the story and the potential of the characters. I want to fall in love with their strength and not be put off by the violence of the bullying or references. It was a slow read but it became better. I recommend it to those who love magical academy and want to start a new series.

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