Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley


Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Series: Magonia #1
Goodreads rating: 3.72
My rating: ★★★★★ (actually 4.5)


Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie? (Goodreads)


I need to start writing reviews almost immediately after I’ve finished a book again. My memory is a bit fuzzy, thus why I decided to turn this into a list review yay!


  • The writing style, though not at all times. The prose is not for everyone and I have to admit there were times that I felt it was a bit out of place at times, but most of the time I thought it was beautiful.
  • Ava’s voice. She felt very realistic to me (especially in the beginning).
  • Ava and Jason’s friendship. It was fun and heartwarming to read.
  • Jason. Welcome to my harem of book boyfriends
  • Ava’s family. They were just so sweet and they loved Ava so much.
  • The concept. Though not entirely (see the dislikes list), but it was original and damn I want to see this as a Studio Ghibli movie.


  • How quickly Ava adjusted to her new life. Uh you just died, now you’re on a ship in the sky full with bird people who can do magic when they sing. Why are you accepting this so fast.
  • The sort of love triangle. I’ve already forgotten his name, but he was a jerk to her until OH SHE CAN SING and then she thinks he’s attractive. It was unrealistic and um, Ava do you remember your best friend Jason who’s a sweetie pie who’s in love with you and who you’re in love with too??
  • The concept. It was a bit vague and not really explained that much, but since there’s a sequel I gave it 4.5 stars in the hope that this will all be solved in the next book (I gave it four stars first because I felt like there were so many things left unexplained).

Have you read Magonia? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


20 thoughts on “Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

  1. Good to hear you enjoyed this one a lot better than I did! I wasn’t really a fan myself; I didn’t really like the prose and I was mostly weirded out by the flying ships and bird ‘nestling’ inside her lungs. Great review!

  2. This book sadly let me down but I enjoyed it for most of the reasons you said. I didn’t like Aza though, I really didn’t for some reason! I thought she was blunt and I couldn’t connect with her.
    I love Jason. He really is a sweet heart! And Aza’s family is so loving. I love Aza’s sister.
    I felt that the plot was way too all over the place for me and I wish everything wasn’t so rushed! But I gave it 3 stars! xoxo

  3. Haven’t read it yet but great review. I’ve started jotting down thoughts in a book after I read so I remember them when I do the review. It helps.

  4. The graphics you have on each subheading are the best! So quirky and cute!
    I really enjoyed how unique Magonia was, especially as many YA Urban Fantasy have very similar world building and premise. I also love the lyrical writing style. However, I found the characters a bit distant, and like you, I could not buy how easily Aza adjusted to BEING A FREAKING BIRD PERSON? Also wished that there was more substance to the worldbuilding!

    • Haha thanks :D I made them with an app 😊
      Yeah I seriously don’t buy that anyone could just accept that SO FAST. I gave it an extra star because there’s going to be a sequel, in which I hope there will be more worldbuilding and more questions answered!

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  6. I know this is pretty old, but I’m going through my email, and I hair read this, so I had to stop and see what you thought!
    I absolutely loved Magonia, although I definitely had the same issues with it that you did. (By the way, her name is Aza, and the “love triangle dude” is Dai, I think) I just can’t get over the writing style. It definitely sold the story to me. So unique and different, you know what I mean?

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