I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Ashes of Gold by J. Elle
Published by Simon and Schuster on January 11, 2022
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction / Own Voices, Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / African American & Black
Format: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Bookshop
Also by this author: Wings of Ebony
In the heart-pounding conclusion to the Wings of Ebony duology, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicole Yoon calls “bold, inventive, big-hearted and deeply perceptive,” Rue makes her final stand to reclaim her people’s stolen magic.
Rue has no memory of how she ended up locked in a basement prison without her magic or her allies. But she’s a girl from the East Row. And girls from the East Row don’t give up. Girls from the East Row pick themselves back up when they fall. Girls from the East Row break themselves out.
But reuniting with her friends is only half the battle. When she finds them again, Rue makes a vow: she will find a way to return the magic that the Chancellor has stolen from her father’s people. Yet even on Yiyo Peak, Rue is a misfit—with half a foot back in Houston and half a heart that is human as well as god, she’s not sure she’s the right person to lead the fight to reclaim a glorious past.
When a betrayal sends her into a tailspin, Rue must decide who to trust and how to be the leader that her people deserve…because if she doesn’t, it isn’t just Yiyo that will be destroyed—it will be Rue herself.
Not too long ago, I posted my review of Wings of Ebony by J.Elle. Book one begins the story of Rue, a young girl who finds herself suddenly belonging to two worlds – one that we are familiar with in the East Row neighborhood of Houston, TX and one that is based in magic in Ghizon. After her mom is killed in East Row, Rue finds herself magically snatched up and transported to the island of Ghizon by a father she has never known. Well now, I am happy to follow that up with a review of Ashes of Gold, the second book in Wings of Ebony duology.
Wings of Ebony Recap
This first book was about self-discovery, family, love and sacrifice. Wings of Ebony is unapologetic and it arrived on the scene right after the summer of 2020. The book provides a space to discuss the narrative of Black neighborhoods, racism and the meaning of family both blood and by choice. Rue is a young woman who looks out for and takes care of her people. In book one, she must do this even in the midst of isolation as she adjust to her new home with her father in Ghizon where they seem to be the only brown people in a sea of grey.
Ashes of Gold Review
Now, Wings of Ebony was indeed a ride. But when I tell you to hold onto your glasses, blanket, hat, etc or whatever you need when you read a book, I mean hold onto it. Ashes of Gold, the second book in this duology is nonstop action, twists and turns! At one point I thought I might need an antacid, because the twists were getting me all worked up. And I am a woman who loves some action in both books and movies.
I don’t want to giveaway any spoilers but I will say the following:
Learning About Ghizon
In Wings of Ebony, you watch Rue fight for her home in East Row. She spends time in both worlds, but you get to spend time getting to learn about her relationships with her sister Tasha, the neighborhood grandma Ms. Leola (who has me ready to bake a pound cake now) and her ex-boo Julius. In Ashes of Gold, we get to learn more not just about Ghizon, but mostly about Rue’s people. Rue now fights to save her Ghizoni people from the evil Chancellor. During her journey of becoming a leader she is also learning more about her people and their culture and traditions too.
As Rue is seen as a leader of her people because of the ancestral magic she has inherited, she must also grow and adjust to what that means for her. She must fight doubt and define for herself what a true leader is to her and what that means for how she treats people. I really enjoyed watching Rue develop as a leader in Ghizon. Her character has so much growth and she learns so much in the process of making mistakes.
Ashes of Gold is action-packed and heart wrenching. There is betrayal. The love triangle continues. (You will have to let me know which team you are on, Team Julius or Team Jhamal.) Ms Leola still makes a mean Sunday dinner that will get you ready for some butt-kicking on the battlefield.
And just like in any good story that includes betrayal… there are some characters in this book that can go kick rocks. Like big ones. And I would fight them on sight. And I would also block them from Ms. Leola’s cornbread. Okay…I’m good.
On that note, I recommend this series!
HAVE A SIP OF COCOA ☕…
I came for… my girl Rue!!! I had to find out what was going to happen next.
I stayed for… the action. Rue was a Black Warrior Queen!
Hot Cocoa Moments: I can’t lie. I was solid Team Jhamal in Wings of Ebony, straight up off the “My Queen” line. But I have to admit Julius had my head on a swivel. I loved how he was portrayed as a young Black man and friend.
Would I Read it Again: Yes!!! That’s what you do with a good series. You re-read because you always want more!
Educator Recommendations: If you have done your research, then you know that series hook kids, especially those who have been thrown off the reading path for one reason or another. Get this series for your classroom library! But don’t stop there! There are so many opportunities for discussion with this book. The themes of representation of Black youth, family- both found and blood, learning about your culture when you have been separated from it, are just a few.
I could do a whole unit on exploring the qualities of leader by having students plot Rue’s character growth throughout both books. I would have them compare her leadership style in East Row with people and surroundings she is familiar with versus her leadership style in Ghizon when she feels like she is behind on the learning curve but not willing to give up. A unit like that is connected to “life readiness” as Dr. Gholdy Muhammad would say, which goes way beyond college and career readiness. Students can explore questions like, What are the qualities of good leader? Can a leader afford to forgive those who betray them? What does mercy look like in a good leader/bad leader? How do you grow as a leader? Is leadership all about having power or is it about the people you are leading?