Review: Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Posted January 7, 2022 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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Review: Wings of Ebony by J. ElleWings of Ebony by J. Elle
Published by Simon and Schuster on January 26, 2021
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Action & Adventure / General, Juvenile Fiction / Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / African American & Black, Young Adult Fiction / Superheroes
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal Library
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Instant New York Times bestseller!

In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry and must save both the human and god worlds. Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games!

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

Also by this author: Ashes of Gold
Book Cover of Wings of Ebony

I love books with Black Girl Magic! On the Wings of Ebony cover alone, I was attracted to this story. I didn’t know what type of mythology or magic was going to be involved but I was here for it. This is a story about strength, family, trust and triumph over evil.

First Impressions

So first impressions from the Wings of Ebony cover: uhoh girl! Go ahead and get your wonder woman on with those cute cuffs and kickass hoodie disguise.

First impression from the first page: The first line of the book let me know that I was in for a tough ride. ” Bullets don’t have names.”

Family First

Rue always takes care of her family. Rue explores what family means to her and how it can evolve. She has her own rules on who qualifies as her family and why. Her dedication to her loved ones is a strong vein that runs throughout the story. She will do anything to protect her sister Tasha. She finds comfort in the neighborhood grandmother Ms. Leola. (Whom I love and is super cool about “those magic folks”!) Rue also has to come to terms with what it means now that her father’s identity has been revealed to her after the loss of her mother.


Rue does not care if you don’t like her Blackness. She is Black and proud of it. Rue does not care what you think about her neighborhood. She is from there and will rep it and protect it. But even with all of that Rue still has to discover the power that rests within herself both literally and figuratively.

Strong Woman Black Girl Magic GIF by Kamala Harris - Find & Share on GIPHY
Rue’s mom was laying the foundation that baby girl needed.

I’ve seen the word unapologetic used a lot to describe both Rue and J.Elle’s approach to writing this intense story that centers Blackness. Rue is Black, she is from a tough neighborhood that is suffering from the effects of racism and poverty and she stays authentic and true to herself no matter what. Rue doesn’t change to make others feel comfortable in her presence.

One of my favorite scenes in Wings of Ebony is between Rue and her Ghizoni best friend Bri. In the scene she doesn’t let Bri get away with tears and false victimhood that would allow Bri to escape a hard truth. It kind of made me think about how Black girls and children are expected to be tough and maintain resilience (some like to call it grit) in the face of adversity. But often other children aren’t expected to do the same and they believe that because they didn’t commit the act that is causing the issue, they shouldn’t have to deal with it or the consequences of it. I’m being a little cryptic to avoid spoilers but trust me when you get to this scene you will understand what I’m talking about.

Team Julius or Team Jhamal

Rue has to choose: a prince of the streets or a Ghizoni warrior? I will keep it brief and just say, Mr. Jhamal had me at “Queen.” Sorry, not sorry Julius… we will see what you do in book two.

Next in Wings of Ebony Duology

I Love Flirting GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Jhamal and that queen talk had me on his team IMMEDIATELY! Lol!

I am currently reading Ashes of Gold, which debuts on Jan. 11, 2022. Full disclosure: I am on the Rue’s Crew, which is a street crew for Ashes of Gold. Make sure you follow me on Instagram for opportunities for giveaways and book swag from the Rue’s Crew members!

More Recommendations for Black Girl Magic

Check out my other reviews for books that center Black Girl Magic:


I came for… Black Girl Magic

I stayed for…. Rue, because I wanted to see her kick some butt with her powers.

Hot Cocoa Moments: Yoooooooooo when Jhamal called Rue “Jelani, my Queen.” I just about fell out of my chair.

Would I Read it Again: Yes

Educator Recommendations: There are so many questions to discuss: What is family? How does racism affect communities? How does colonization and the appropriation of valuable items affect cultures? How do younger generations reckon with the misdeeds and evil doing of older generations? If you benefit and prosper from something that is stolen, but you didn’t steal it, is it your responsibility to give it back or to make amends?

“Moms raised a diamond.” – Rue

“And diamonds don’t crack.” – Tasha

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