Maya and the Return of the Godlings

Clarion. (Maya and the Rising Dark: Bk. 2). Sept. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780358106326.
Gr 5 Up–In this book that picks up where Maya and the Rising Dark left off, middle schooler and guardian-in-training Maya is learning to patch holes in the veil separating this world from the Dark. Her friends Eli and Frankie are also coming into their own powers—and they aren’t the only ones. More powers are popping up across Jackson Middle School, making extra work for the elders of Maya’s South Side Chicago neighborhood who also happen to be Orisha gods. When Maya learns that her father’s soul is trapped in the Dark, the Orisha and godlings meet to discuss sending someone to retrieve it. But the council has a history of caution, and concern for a coming war with the Dark looms. Despite the potential consequences of a return to the Dark, Maya refuses to be stopped from saving her father. Like the first book in the series, this work is a celebration of diverse community. Maya and her friends have a variety of interests, characters’ skin tones range from light brown to dark, hairstyles span from locs to cornrows, and family dynamics mirror the beautiful complexity of society today. Maya, Eli, and Frankie journey through the terrain of the Dark, offering readers a closer look at the other world and further demonstrating the close friendship the tweens share. The three are surprised that the Darkbringers are as varied as their own people, with skin in tones of blue, and purple, barbed tails, horns, wings, or all three, and, most surprisingly, differing opinions of the imminent war.
VERDICT A sequel solid in character development, plot, pace, and continued world-building.

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