ARC Review: MAYA AND THE RETURN OF THE GODLINGS by Rena Barron (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an eARC of the book from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on a blue, green, and yellow background next to image of three Black kids, the largest a girl holding a staff
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book



Book cover for MAYA AND THE RETURN OF THE GODLINGS: title in blye above three Black kids with magic, including one with a staff

The threat from The Dark is far from over. Twelve-year-old Maya knows this. After crossing the veil between the two worlds, saving her father, and narrowly escaping the sinister clutches of the Lord of Shadows, tensions between the human world and The Dark are higher than ever. And even worse, Maya’s orisha powers as a godling are out of control.

Now a guardian in training, Maya spends her days patching up veils with her father and cleaning up near-disasters like baby wormholes that her erratic powers create. But when Maya and her friends discover that something went terribly wrong during their journey to bring her father back to the human world, they are forced to return to The Dark and restore what they left behind, the one thing keeping the veil from falling: her father’s soul.

The Lord of Shadows is mobilizing his forces for an all-out war against the human world. And this time, Maya and her friends will need all the help they can get. Even if that means teaming up with their greatest enemies, the darkbringers.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


MAYA AND THE RETURN OF THE GODLINGS sees Maya and her friends stand off against the council of Orisha’s hesitance and the Dark once more to save Maya’s father. His captivity in the last book has taken its toll on him, and the cure lies in the Dark. But it’s not the same world as she remembers.

Without spoiling anything, it was nice to see a new side to the Dark and its denizens. It’s a mishmash of near-future dystopia with fantasy creatures in it, plus some rather unpleasant countryside. Maya’s adventure this time broke down the distinctions between good and evil, rather than falling into the typical SFF “CGI villain army” trope, where one side is all evil with no depth. And that promises to be very interesting for the next book.

It’s rather a short book, fitting a lot in (the finale is covered in about 20 pages!) and it’s quite an easy book to read, so can be devoured in short order. Maya’s voice is great, hovering between a kid who just does not want to do homework and one with too much responsibility on her shoulders.

This sequel does a really good job of covering the major points of what’s happened in the previous book through the narration. It’s been more than a year, so I couldn’t really remember what had happened in MAYA AND THE RISING DARK, but the crucial details were revealed so the returning villains had the weight of history behind them.

There is at least one more book to come in this series, which is nice to know. Should be a pretty epic adventure next time.

Read my reviews of other books by Rena Barron

Middle Grade:

Maya and the Rising Dark (this series):

Young Adult:

Kingdom of Souls:

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