“I’m here for magic and vengeance. Then I’m taking my Black ass home.” — Wings of Ebony
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle is a powerful debut novel that holds the important weight of transcending different genres of literature in order deliver a beautiful story about family, love of culture, a sense of self, and how one young woman stands up to injustice that lurks around every corner.
I read a blurb of a different review for Wings of Ebony which used the phrase “Black Hunger Games” in order to quickly label this book. Wings of Ebony is so much more than an ode to a different dystopian YA series. J. Elle herself has described it as “Wonder Woman meets Wakanda.” Doesn’t that paint such a great picture? As a reader, I can tell that J. Elle poured her soul into this book. I connected with Rue in a way that I believe if anyone uses a clarifier of race to distinguish this book missed the entire point because absolutely everyone should read Wings of Ebony regardless of age, race, and gender. While Wings of Ebony is geared towards a YA fantasy audience, the overarching moral themes and the lessons to be gleaned from the pages are for everyone with zero descriptors or clarifiers.
Set within the modern world, Rue is all about her family. She’s a girl who learns that part of her heritage is deeply rooted within an ancient magic people who have been hidden away, but what happens when those people become a threat to your human sister? It isn’t just the lessons learned that are beautiful. The words and the story are as well. Rue is unapologetic about her background, and where she came from—an admirable trait. Rue struggles with her father who swoops in out of the blue in a tumultuous time of her life. She also struggles with the guilt associated with leaving her sister behind, and leaving her community in a time of great unrest. I quite enjoyed the back and forth timeline that showed how uncomfortable Rue was in Ghizon, but it also showed how her resolve strengthened over time to do the right thing for her home back in East Row, and how she learned to trust herself over time.
If you’re like me and enjoy fantasy stories with really vibrant and unique world-building, a strong female protagonist, and a plot that will undoubtedly have you glued to the page, then I suggest immediately reading Wings of Ebony. I absolutely cannot wait to read more in this incredible new series, and to see where Rue’s journey will take her to next. J. Elle keep on writing, readers young and old need more Rue in their lives!