First a confession, which you already know if you’ve read this blog: I read a lot of weird, non-fiction. A lot of it. Early last year, I read Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds by Jacques F. Vallée and it captured my imagination. Folks, there really is a historical incident where a bunch of villagers were holding church service and they heard a crash outside. They went to investigate the noise and discovered what appeared to be a ship’s anchor attached to the roof of their church. It was connected to, this just blows my mind, a ship in the sky. This happened 1211 AD. The astonishing thing about Passport to Magonia is that it has pages and pages of stories like that, eyewitness accounts of truly bizarre ships, people, and incidents concerning people from the sky. And they all actually happened… I remember thinking that an author needed to get their hands on this story, any of them really, and turn it into something fantastic. She used a different source material than the book that I read, but Headley does a pretty good job bringing a mysterious blip in history to life.
This book, Magonia, is about a girl named Aza, who is really sick and can’t breathe. Her best friend is a boy named Jason. Together, they laugh and talk their way through the worst of her illnesses, but things seem to be coming to a head. Aza may die. And, if she does, she’ll never find out… that maybe she wasn’t from this world in the first place. Headley paints an absolutely magical world in the sky in Magonia and I’m already excited to read the next in the series.
Magonia isn’t going to appeal to everyone. I was, at first, rather turned off on this book because of the uber-intellectual back and forth conversations of the main characters. I kind of feel like, since the mega success of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars that authors make their teenage protagonists so brainy and well spoken that it is just unbelievable. I mean, it’s been awhile, but I remember high school. My peers and I were lucky if we could string two cogent sentences together to form one thought, let alone present verbal dissertations on the meaning of pi. Anyway, once I was able to look past that irritating premise, I got really into the story.
I read Headley’s first book Queen of Kings years ago and I remember being very struck by it. Headley has the ability to weave actual events with fictional story lines so that they two begin to blur in the reader’s mind. I had read Margaret George’s Cleopatra shortly before Queen of Kings so I had a pretty good idea of the actual story of the Egyptian queen. Headley took Cleopatra’s life and turned it into a vampire story (if I’m remembering it right). It sounds sort of silly just written out that way, (oh- ANOTHER vampire story) but it is actually rather fun.
If you enjoyed Magonia, you may also enjoy The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble or Under the Empyrean Sky (The Heartland Trilogy, #1) by Chuck Wendig. Thanks for reading!