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May 23, 2021
Keep the Dark at Bay
by Page Turner

Maya and the Rising Dark | HMH Books

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron


Maya is dragging herself through math tutoring when she sees it for the first time – color fading out of the world. The weirdness continues from then, with werehyenas appearing in the street and a shadowy man visiting her dreams. Only when her father goes missing does she learn the truth. He is an orisha and the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark, which makes Maya a godling. Even worse, he’s been captured by the Lord of Shadows, who wants nothing more than to destroy the Veil. To save her father, Maya will have to literally face her nightmares and unlock powers she never knew she had.


Maya and the Rising Dark is a story like no other. With lovable nerd characters whose importance goes far beyond the stereotypical “nerdy best friend” role, mythology seldom seen in fiction, and a wonderful community of both humans and orisha, this book is a beautiful twist on several common tropes. Rarely is Maya left to fend for herself, rather, she is constantly supported by her friends and family. She isn’t really the “chosen one” in this story either, but someone who took responsibility upon herself when she felt that no one else would in time. Every character is truly important in their own way and serves to make the story that much more interesting.

I really loved the moral content of this book as well. Throughout the story, Maya contemplates the contention between the orisha and the Lord of Shadows. She constantly does her best to avoid harming the darkbringers, inhabitants of the Dark, since their real enemy is only the Lord of Shadows for the harm he wants to inflict. Yet she is still conflicted about them and their role in the Lord of Shadows’ plans. It really reflects that not everything is clearly good or bad and that even the heroes can struggle with whether or not their actions are right. Maya and the Rising DarkĀ really takes common themes and reworks them in a fantastic way, opening the door for more wonderful stories like it.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): violence, death

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

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