Warning: Mucho minor (and major if you haven’t read the first book) spoilers, proceed with caution.
Aerie is a very strange and complex, young adult fantasy. Allow me to explain. In the first book, we met Aza, a girl who was drowning on Earth because, though she doesn’t know it, she’s actually from a kingdom in the clouds. She’s in love with Jason, a genius boy with obsessive thoughts like repeating the numbers of pi in his head over and over again. Many adventures happened in the first book, but essentially we learned that in Aza’s home, the Magonians use their voices in magical ways. Through changing vibrations, Magonians can make elements appear and change, control the weather and animals, manipulate the molecules of reality itself.
Like most young adult stories, Aza is special, a savior with godly abilities that she didn’t know she had until she was tested. She’s supposed to bring balance back to Magonia because Aza’s mother is crazy and wants to kill everyone on the ground- Jason included. One of the things that happens at the end of the first book is that Aza’s mother is imprisoned. (Lots of other stuff happens too though, that’s hardly the tip of the iceberg.)
This book picks up where the last one left off. Jason and Aza are deepening their relationship though Aza looks like a completely new girl because she trashed her “skin,” essentially a suit that allows her to look and breathe like a human, and had to acquire a new one. Did I mention that Magonians have naturally blue skin with orange/red eyes and white tattoos that change depending on their emotional state? Yeah, that’s a thing.
Aza’s mother, Zal, breaks out of prison and someone has to stop her before she destroys the world. There are rumors of “The Flock”, a weapon of some sort that can stop Zal, but no one knows where or what it is. And that, I think, is where this story really begins.
Headley’s world building is epic. Magonia itself is a treasure and the other supernatural creatures that the author introduces are tantalizing in their possibility. However, I didn’t care much for the characterizations or the obvious plot twists.
The grand showdown itself was a huge disappointment like expecting a brightly colored balloon on your birthday only to have it pop in your hands when you receive it. Headley gathered all of these potentially awesome characters together but only the actions of three mattered. I wanted ships firing at each other, creatures made of flame, earth, water, feathers… slamming into each other in waves with the earth itself rising in fountains in an effort to touch the sky. Sigh. Not so much.
Aza’s special, we get it. Aza can sing a song that only she can sing, we get that too. She FEELS things deeply then SINGS them deeply. Blah. I don’t know, I just never connected with the character the way the author wanted me to. Headley built a lovely world that was so much more than just three characters. Perhaps I’m being unfair- did anyone who read this book feel differently? I would love to hear from you.
Recommended for readers who are willing to overlook a weak story for some fantastical and wildly imaginative elements. You don’t have to read the first book to appreciate this one, but I think you’d want to in order to absorb the outlandish world that is Magonia. Some similar reads: The Breedling and the City in the Garden, Archivist Wasp, or Under the Empyrean Sky.
Thanks for reading!