Book Reviews

Review: Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Maya and the Rising Dark is perfect for anyone who’s been a fan of the Rick Riordan stories. Full of heart, quests for family, and friendship, this book is the beginning of a fantastic middle grade series. I love seeing all these diverse stories for middle grade audiences! Keep reading this review to find out all the reason I loved this one!


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Maya and the Rising Dark quickly made my list of middle grades I’d recommend. It’s a story about a world that isn’t what it seems. Of secrets, the importance of stories, and illusions. It’s about the truths our parents hide behind stories in an effort to protect us and the lengths we’d go to for family. I loved how seamlessly Barron weaves the folklore and stories, the ones we listen to before bed which impart long lasting messages. For fans of the Rick Riordan imprint, you definitely need to check out this one!

I adored the bonds of friendship within Maya and the Rising Dark. It’s a story that emphasizes the strength, courage, and heartfelt emotions wrapped up in friendship. Maya and the Rising Dark is also a story about family, the lengths to which we will go to for them. Stories come to life all around us in this fast paced action story. Not only do I adore how passionate Maya is, but the addition of a side character obsessed with science!

Find Maya and the Rising Dark on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite middle grade?

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