Review of Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

By: Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

My Thoughts:
I saw that beautiful cover and that tag line by Mr. Neil Gaiman and was sold on wanting (needing) to read Magonia. Gaiman wrote, “she writes like a dream” and I’ll say he was spot on. Immediately upon starting this book I was impressed by Headley’s writing style. Her main character, Aza, has such a unique voice. She is cynical, maybe a bit bitter (?) yet completely likeable in her manner of handling all the problems she’s been thrown–and wow what a problem she had.

I can confidently say that until reading this book I’d never considered how it would feel to be suffocating. Through Headley’s writing I felt short of breath and really could understand Aza and her viewpoint. It was beautifully done, elegant, heart-breaking but not so melancholy I didn’t want to read it.

Magonia flip flops between Aza and Jason (the best friend). I really loved both of these characters but I think I enjoyed reading from Jason’s view a tiny bit more (this became true even more as the novel progressed). I loved the workings of his mind and how he had strange tics that set him apart from any other character I’ve read. Also, he deals with something mid-way through the book that I recently experienced in my own way so I was very emotionally impacted by his POV.

I completely and utterly loved the first third of this book. I really can’t think of how Headley could have created a stronger start for me. I was mesmerized by her prose, descriptions and story. There came a moment…a big moment, where the story location changed and our main character became aware of her true nature. Once this took place my adoration lagged a bit.

The descriptions of Magonia (the place) and the sky-ships were vivid and I could very clearly imagine what was occurring but certain things, though inventive, seemed a bit on the cheesy side for me. I sort of loved it but at the same time I didn’t. That’s completely unclear I know. This book was just so delightfully strange I can’t help but love it to some degree but at the same time I wasn’t nearly as into the middle to end of the novel.

Though the people of Magonia are described well I wasn’t able to emotionally connect to them (or their plight) as well as I would have liked either. We don’t get a whole lot of information about them beyond the face value since they are all side characters. As for the romantic element- it was very slight but I could see the makings of a possible love triangle. Though, I can’t really say since who knows where the series will go next.

Even though I had a few problems this book was so unique, creative and just plain strange. It held my interest without fail. I think this one will be incredible for some readers and others might struggle with just how strange it is. For me, I think I loved it. Reading it felt like opening my mind which is always a plus.

Back to the strange elements…I wish I could go into detail about the birds, the sharks, the clouds, the UFOs referenced from history but that might spoil your reading experience.

Final Thoughts:
As time passes and I think back on this book (that is still very much part of my brain) I am convinced I enjoyed it even more upon reflection. I am convinced I’ll be rereading it at some point (not that long from now I suspect). It’s the type of book you can escape into because Headley’s descriptions and imagination are immensely unique.

My March TBR Pile

February was one heck of a month. A lot of bad happened and some good too…March hasn’t started off that much better but I’m optimistic it will improve. I have really enjoyed the books I’ve been reading. This month has a great selection and I’m really excited to escape reality into these books. Here’s a look at the month…

Pile of Books


This is a rather small pile but I’m not wanting to feel stress these days. I’ve been reading at a slower pace so figured this was manageable. I think I’ll begin with Magonia. I’m so exciting and hope it lives up to my expectations. Have you read it yet?

Upcoming Posts for March

  • March 3- Blog Tour for A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
  • March 5- Blog Tour for The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
  • March 10- Interview with Lauren DeStefano
  • Reviews for Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci, The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows and more.

Stacking the Shelves

Another week has passed and as always I don’t feel like I accomplished nearly as much as I would have liked. I did however care for my ill  kiddo who was lucky enough to catch two (yes two) separate viruses. Somehow I’ve avoided getting either myself so here’s to hoping my immunity withstands the assault.

Since last weekend was Halloween I didn’t post  my Stacking the Shelves but I did post some fun pictures of my family dressed up. You can check them out on Instagram if you’re so inclined. Halloween was a blast and thankfully kiddo didn’t get sick until after the fun.

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews is a weekly meme where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

Here are the last two weeks worth of books:

For Review (via Publisher):


ENSNARED!!!! *flails* I’ve started and almost finished reading it already. I’ve loved it. It is an incredibly emotional read that has completely swept me away.

For Review (via Edelweiss):


This sounds a lot like the summary for Trial by Fire but I’m hoping it’ll hit me better than that one did. Isn’t this cover is beyond gorgeous?

Borrowed (thank you Jon from Bookish Antics):


I’ve been obsessed with An Ember in the Ashes since I heard of it and I was lucky enough to have an amazing friend, thank you Jon! I’ve already read it and wow…just wow. You should go ahead and pre-order it.

Gifted (thank you Kelly from Effortlessly Reading and Jon from Bookish Antics):