The Black Experience 2.0: Black Magic — New Black Magic Books I Love

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Alechia Dow (she/her) talks about the change in representation of Black people in the media and recommends some new Black magic books that make her squeal in the third sub segment of Black Magic. 

(Black Magic is a sub segment of TBE with the contributions of authors and bloggers recommending books by Black authors. With the exception of Hoodoo, Black Magic is a sub series of recommendation list)


When I was a kid, Black Magic didn’t exist outside the magical Negro narrative. You know the Black character who shows up on screen or in a book, says something the white protagonist needs to hear or does something for the white protagonist that they desperately need to happen for the story to progress, and then poofs out before you ever really knew their name or story… That’s the kind of representation I could hope for as a Black kid. Because if it wasn’t the good-doing magical Negro, it was the drug dealer/gang member/prisoner/villain or… in horror, it was the Black person, who was ultimately the first to die because they made a bad decision or sacrificed themself for the white folks. Or they were the Black kid who was really good at basketball but had nothing of substance to say off the court. That’s it. 

Now we have honest-to-goodness MAGIC. Black Magic. Where Black characters are centered, where they can live their best life while having an adventure. They can do spells, their words have power, they have love interests, best friends that “get” them, and they don’t exist to boost the white characters. They just get to exist and live and love and do magic. And maybe things aren’t so great, but you’re going to root for them, you want to see them succeed. And that’s what’s amazing about these books out and coming out. They’re beautiful, hopeful, and don’t cater to the white gaze.

Here’s my list of newer titles by Black Authors: 

Let’s kick it off with MIDDLE GRADE

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Here’s the official synopsis: 

“Amari Peters knows three things.

Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.

No one will talk about it.

His mysterious job holds the secret …

So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.

Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the 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 …”

I chose this one because I’m reading it with my 7 year old right now, and WHEWWW it’s so good. She’s hooked and getting her hooked is hard. But she’s so into it, she wants to know everything about this world, and the adventure Amari’s going on, and what happened to Quinton!!! B.B. Alston, you genius! 

Some other fave MG: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Now let’s talk my fave new YA

WINGS OF EBONY by J. Elle. 

Here’s the official synopsis:

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

First of all, J. Elle is incredible. This is a love letter to her home, to her neighborhood, to sisterhood, and to #BlackGirlMagic. It’s one of those stories that you pick up and can’t put down. I seriously can’t wait for book 2! Also, J. Elle is writing a magical Black school middle grade which AHHH, and nonfiction. She’s a force to be reckoned with—don’t sleep on her books, this is just the beginning. 


Other recent YAs you have to read: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Conquest by Celeste Harte, A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Baron, Given by Nandi Taylor, A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy,  and more. Ask me, I have HUGE lists! 

Now let’s hop on over to Adult: 

Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles) by L. Penelope 

Here’s the official synopsis:

The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now, the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power.

All Jasminda ever wanted was to live quietly on her farm, away from the prying eyes of those in the nearby town. Branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, she’s been shunned all her life and has learned to steer clear from the townsfolk…until a group of Lagrimari soldiers wander into her valley with an Elsiran spy, believing they are still in Lagrimar. 

Through Jack, the spy, Jasminda learns that the Mantle is weakening, allowing people to slip through without notice. And even more troubling: Lagrimar is mobilizing, and if no one finds a way to restore the Mantle, it might be too late for Elsira. Their only hope lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps and Jasminda’s Earthsong is the key to unravel them.

Thrust into a hostile society and a world she doesn’t know, Jasminda and Jack race to unveil an ancient mystery that might offer salvation.

So, I loved this book. It’s everything I love about fantasy (although CW about assault), but it’s got the romance, the magic, the otherworldly feel, the DRAMA… I hadn’t read adult in forever, so this was that book––that series––that brought me back to the genre. Go pick this up! 

Some other adult books I love: How Long ‘til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin, OCTAVIA BUTLER EVERYTHING, Some non-magical but amazing books: How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams, Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid, EVERY SINGLE BOOK BY TALIA HIBBERT, and more!! Feel free to ask me! 

Thank you all for reading and I hope you love any and every of these books. Let’s give Black Magic their due!!! 

Alechia. 


About Alechia Dow

Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher, and Youth Services librarian. When not writing YA sci-fi featuring determined black girls (like herself), you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, mentoring, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.

You can find Alechia on Twitter @alechiawrites and on Instagram @alechiadow. You can also visit her website https://www.alechiadow.com


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2 thoughts on “The Black Experience 2.0: Black Magic — New Black Magic Books I Love

  1. Great recs. For a while (like 60s-80s) I think Virginia Hamilton was like the main author in the US writing fantasy featuring Black characters for middle grade audiences (Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl, Zeely). I remember Nnedi Okorafor talking about the influence of Zeely on her for an interview in the Dark Matter: Reading the Bones anthology.

    Like

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