Malenie found the perfect place to hide from the world.
No one else sees the endless Wall that stretches across the desert, and when Melanie is in the shadow of its magic, she becomes invisible. Bullies can’t torment her. Her ex-best friend can’t ignore her. And her beloved Papa doesn’t worry about the secret that puts her life in danger…
When a stranger comes to town and abducts Papa, Malenie is thrust into a dangerous quest to save him. She learns that the Wall holds secrets that will bring her in touch with her ancestral magic, bind her to new friends and old enemies, and force her to confront a deadly villain. To save Papa, she will have to learn to use the mysterious magic that is inscribed on her very skin.
Amazon Link: The Desert Wall
Author: Raf Morgan
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars
This book intrigued me because of the beautiful cover and the setting seemed to have Middle Eastern inspiration. I’m always looking for stories with diverse characters and cultures. What is the desert wall and why does it divide the world in two? How does Malenie have magic inscribed in her skin? But unfortunately, while these questions were answered, the overall story didn’t satisfy me.
I’m not sure if this book is quite young adult or if it’s more middle grade, since the characters’ ages weren’t given but they seemed younger than twelve in their speech, thinking, etc. But some of the subject matter was very dark, while written about in simplistic language like it was trying to be clear to a young reader.
The magic rules weren’t clear in the beginning, then they were haphazardly explained in the middle, and changed in the end. But since magic was central to the story, all the changes were hard to accept. I’m not sure how much of the confusion was from the characters’ youth and inexperience, and what was just a jumble.
Also, by the end, there were too many character names to keep track of and some were too similar. For example, Paza and Papa are one letter apart, It was easy to mistake one for another at a glance.
But for all the young characters, some parts were hard to read because of the harsh violence, especially later on. There is a lot of abuse, death, and pain, some of it inflicted on children. The story’s message that abusers were once victims of abuse themselves was heavy-handed and not applied well. I was supposed to feel sympathy for the villain because of his father, but the other mercenaries who worked for him were killed without remorse, names, or backstory. So do they not deserve the same chance at redemption?
Overall, it was an interesting world but the story was awkwardly written. I’m not sure who the intended audience was (children, teens, or adults) and so I don’t know who I would recommend it to. It was recommended to fans of Tamora Pierce but I don’t think there is much of a comparison there.
Here is this book in my reading journal: