I put my fork aside, waiting for him to tell me it was all a joke. But then Papa started to sing at the table. His usual deep voice dropped into a familiar lullaby.

From the morning’s glow to the evening’s low

There’s much work to do and many places to go

But no matter how far I travel or the people I see

There’s nowhere in the whole world I’d rather be

For though I must fight to hold the beasts at bay

No mountain or storm or foe will keep me away

For I’ll cross raging rivers and bend hyperspace

Just to see a smile on my sweet baby girl’s face

I couldn’t hold back my smile. If I thought Papa’s voice was magical when he told stories, it was mesmerizing when he sang.

Rena Barron, Maya and the Rising Dark

I learned a lot from Maya.

A little over a year ago? Two? I came across Rena Barron on Twitter, promoting her book series Kingdom of Souls. It looked interesting, I gave her a follow, then BOOM! A little while later she drops that she’s releasing a middle-grade book series starring a young black girl fighting against supernatural forces in Chicago.

Sign me up, I thought.

I liked the book quite a bit. I gave it 3 stars over on GoodReads (for whatever an arbitrary rating system matters to you) and that’s nothing against Barron’s writing. I feel for these characters, I understand them on every page, and, honestly, if I was a kid I’d want to hang out with Maya. She definitely would have been a cool friend to have. They’re fleshed out, the world feels authentic, and every new magical piece that’s introduced comes about with a minor history lesson for Maya, and the reader, to learn. Overall I loved the creeping dread lying on the corner of every page, that something truly dark and tragic was, or still is, on its way.

But, I don’t know, my mind started slipping into that analytical mode that writers talk about (which might be because I read most of this while doing preliminary edits for Project: GREY), so every page I’d think, “Oh, that’s a good technique! I should write a scene like that!” or, “Hmm, not sure I would have written it this way. Maybe it should say THIS!”

That’s the danger of trying to be a reader while writing. Most of what you’re trying to enjoy becomes work.

Maya, unfortunately, became work. So, yeah, it’s my own fault for not getting maximum enjoyment out of it. I’ll have to give it a reread before the second book in the series comes out. (Link HERE.)

A delightful book that I’ll be more than happy to pass along to anyone looking for the answer to, “Can you fight back the darkness?”

The answer is always, “Yes.”

Thanks for reading,

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