Middle Grade Book Review

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Publication Date: January 19, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

ARC provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books via NetGalley for an honest review.


This was just as delightful as all the reviews I have read lead me to believe. Lots of action and a delightful new world filled with magic and wonderful characters.

Amari is a great character, full of spunk and determination. She has a wonderful relationship with her mom and brother which is always so nice to see in a middle grade book. Amari does have a bit of a temper, but many kids this age do, and she does seem capable of controlling it. She does take learning that she is a magician a little too easily, but she does have a sense of wonder about it as she learns to control it. She does manage to make a good friend in Elsie as well, and it was nice to watch their friendship develop over the course of the book.

The overall plot of the story was well done and nicely paced with action scenes through out the book. The world building was good, but could have been a bit stronger. We do run into some interesting creatures and there is some nice gadgetry thrown about. It is a bit of fantasy and science mixed nicely together. The adults that she interacts with the most in the story are also for the most part supportive of Amari.

My only disappointments with the story was that the Night Brothers just were not that scary or evil, which may have been the point. Magicians are feared/hated in this world, but Amari wants to change that opinion. I also figured out pretty quickly who the mysterious apprentice was that was terrorizing everyone. My last issue was that the whole confrontation between Amari, the Night Brothers and their apprentice was really rushed and not at all what I was expecting. I always have hope with ARCs that the minor rough patches get worked out in the final editing.

Overall, this is a nice start to a promising series, that I think most kids will enjoy. I think a lot of kids will be able to get behind Amari and will enjoy the world that is being created here.

One comment

  1. Great review! This ended up being one of my favourite 2020 reads but I do agree with you that the climax/reveal was a bit too rushed and it was just too “easy” for how the Night Brothers and magicians were made up to be. I still loved it overall though and I’m really keen for the next book 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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