Maya and the Rising Dark – Rena Barron

One girl’s journey to find her father leads to a hidden world…
and the gods that created it.

An Evil Shadow Lord vs. a 12-year-old and her two BFFs? No problem!
If you or a reader you know is looking for a book they will love as much as Percy Jackson and the Olympians, this book is for you! Dive into a fantasy that draws on the rich West African history and mythology.

Maya is used to her father leaving for weeks at a time — it’s part of his job, after all.
When Papa is home, he loves to tell stories about the magical creatures and perilous villains he met while he was away. Maya used to believe all of Papa’s stories, but that was before she turned 12, and 12 year olds absolutely do NOT believe in fairytales. When Papa is called away just hours after he returns from one of his trips, Maya knows something isn’t right. Worried her Papa might be in danger, Maya follows him through the streets of South Side Chicago, only to watch him disappear behind a giant shadow just beyond the train tracks. It turns out, Papa has been hiding something from Maya – something BIG.

You don’t know enough to know what you don’t know.

Papa is one of the ancient gods that created the universe.
Suddenly, Maya is terrified that all of Papa’s stories weren’t stories at all. Not only is he a god, but Papa’s been kidnapped by the Shadow Lord, an evil god who is determined to destroy everyone Papa loves. Despite the other gods, known as the “Council,” telling Maya go home and stay out of harm’s way while they find Papa, Maya refuses to sit back and do nothing while Papa could be in trouble, especially not when she’s pretty sure she’s been seeing the Shadow Lord in her dreams for weeks. With the help of her two best friends, Maya finds a way to enter the Shadow World and save Papa before the monsters find him.

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson and Aru Shah, Maya and the Rising Dark stars a fierce and strong young girl who is smart enough to know she can’t enter this fight alone. I loved the way Maya rejected the usual hero’s complex, not only accepting her friends’ help, but ASKING for it.

Every kid should be so lucky to have friends who believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself.

Of all the reasons I loved this book, the support of Maya’s friends was my favorite.
Maya begins this book believing she must save her father on her own, but through the relentless kindness and encouragement of her best friends, Maya realizes that friendship doesn’t mean charging into danger by yourself, it means respecting each person’s unique strengths and working as a team. I loved learning this lesson along with Maya, and boy, did I leave this book feeling more than a little grateful for the wonderful friends in my life.

If you enjoyed Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson or the The Sons of Apollo, you will love this story!

Content Warnings:
Physical Combat & Dangerous Situations: Maya encounters monsters, a Shadow-Lord, and more than a few of the evil god’s goons. As a result, there are scenes in this book that might be frightening to more sensitive readers.

Recommended Age: 9+

Questions to consider
***Do you think Maya’s father was right to keep his secret from her for so long?
***Who do you trust most in your life?
***Do you have friends like Maya’s whom you could count on, no matter what?