Book Review: Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Title: Amari and the Night Brothers
Author: B.B. Alston
Released: January 19, 2021 (Hardcover)
Series: Supernatural Investigations
Description: Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving both full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?
Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis, and magicians are all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.
Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids – who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them to do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.
With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.
Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click on the “Read More”, it is under the assumption you either don’t care about spoilers or you’ve already read the book.
When it comes to stories about a secret underground world, it’s important to pace both the characters and readers in a way not to overwhelm them both. And thankfully, this book managed to pace it well enough to introduce the supernatural underworld and its dangers in a way that’s both imaginative and gives room for more imagination of the readers. There’s something about the way this story was written that really charmed me.
Usually, these types of worlds would somehow center on the main character and just them. However, this story is actually centered in the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs because of where Amari’s older brother, Quinton Peters, had gone missing years before. The thing about it is though, while the story itself does revolve around Amari, it’s clear that she and VanQuish (the duo between a Van Helsing and Quinton Peters who are known to be super amazing agents) are just small parts of a whole supernatural world just waiting to be explored.
And what kept me reading was to know that both she and her weredragon roommate were going to be okay. More than okay, I hoped she was able to find Quinton again through every trial and terror she had to experience.
It’s very tough to balance both world-building and character development (much less of multiple children and adults that are in it) at the same time and Amari did that wonderfully. There were some points where it did sort of fall short, but this is mostly in Amari’s point of view so we can’t know what’s going on in the other characters’ heads. It’s not a detriment to anything but it did make some of the plot twists a bit questionable. Although, I feel like Dylan being the enemy is pepperly paced and hinted at fairly well, especially when the possibility of Maria Van Helsing being a traitor was certainly present.
Honestly, I really liked how balanced everything was. I loved that we learned about both the Bureau and a very small taste of the supernatural world and not all at once. The trick of opening a new world, especially an underworld, is not to show everything all at once. The temptation of wanting to do so, and to learn more, is absolutely there and the end is absolutely sequel bait. Normally, that would drop a star, but I’m already so in love with Amari and her presence and her thoughts and her determination that by that point, I was already invested. I want to see this little girl succeed, but more than just survive, I want to see her thrive and become the best Special Agent than her brother.
I’m glad that we also had some closure on how others outside of Amari sees her – by using Jayden to sit her down and tell her that compared to him and not her brother, Amari is quite the achiever and an extremely prodigious child. She always compared herself to her brother and even more so when she was at the summer training camp, but this story is so good about learning how to come into her own power (literally). I was a bit worried there would be a random romance between them but they’re friends and it’s cute and I really hope to see him in the next book! I hope to see more and I hope to see more of this underground world in the next book!
Posted on February 16, 2021, in ★★★★★ – 5 Stars, Book Reviews, Book Series, Supernatural Investigations and tagged amari and the night brothers, b.b. alston, book review, fantasy, middle grade, Supernatural Investigations. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.