Title: The Blazing Star
Author: Imani Josey
Genre: YA Fantasy
Available: 6th Dec
Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.
Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.
As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.
Source: ARC from Wise Ink via NetGalley
I found this book hard going. I saw that beautiful cover and thought the premise sounded interesting, because if there is one thing the YA genre needs, it’s decent POC characters. So I found it a shame that I just couldn’t get into this book. I didn’t find Portia particularly compelling as a main character, while Alex is plain awful – I much preferred Selene, what little we got to see of her, and I liked the priestesses too.
It’s not that I didn’t like Portia – she can be brave and is caring to those she’s close to, but she also whines a lot – I just found her kind of flat and unchanging. Part of this is down to the pacing: it’s very slow to get going. I spent the first few chapters waiting for the time travel to happen. Yet when it did the pace slowed to a crawl, because there’s a lot of detail thrown in to make you feel like you’re in ancient times. Which is fascinating in its own way, but because Portia is sick it made everything drag. I also expected a bit more Egyptian mythology. Bits and pieces are thrown in here and there, but not as much as I would have expected when most of the book is set in a temple.
Things do pick up in the second half, but between the bouts of action everything slowed down a bit too much again. There is a complicated plot that involves magic, souls and ancient mythological feuds, which we learn about in dollops along the way, but the slow pace managed to make even the interesting stuff feel dull. There’s also a romance that is instant and utterly unsurprising and mostly crammed in towards the end of the book in a rather unconvincing manner.
So overall this one just didn’t work for me. I found myself skimming most of it because the descriptions, while lush and beautiful at times, were just too much. There is potential here, but faster pacing and stronger character development would go a long way in strengthening the whole thing.
The Blazing Star is out December 6th.
Visit Imani Josey for more details.