Book Reviews

Book Review: Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Series: Maya and the Rising Dark #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.


My Review: Oh my goodness I really loved this book! Maya and the Rising Dark was a fresh, original story with much black girl magic goodness and the power of one’s roots.

Maya is a comic book nerd who loves her family, friends, neighborhood and city. I liked the close, loving relationship Maya has with her father. She is willing to go the distance to rescue him and stop darkbringers and the Lord of Shadows from invading and destroying the human world. She’s a relatable kid, bighearted, and impulsive yet understands when she’s wrong and the grave consequences some actions have.

I love Maya’s friends. One of them loves all things paranormal. The other is an academic genius. And then there’s Maya with her deep love of comic books. These three are definitely friendship goals. I liked how Maya drew on her favorite comic book character and her father’s fantastical stories to push through and keep her and her friends alive.

The world building was great! There’s this awesome blend of community and black culture, darkness and light that was juxtaposed really well and made for an captivating read.

The story was fast-paced and full of action. I didn’t want to stop reading. Maya is only 12 years old but is determined to save the world despite the odds so firmly stacked against her. This little warrior earned a place in my heart.

Maya and the Rising Dark was too quick of a read – you could read it in a day – because I’m already super eager for the next book. This was a fantastic middle grade fantasy adventure that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to see what adventures Maya must undertake next!

4 replies on “Book Review: Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron”

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