GUEST BLOG: Book Recommendation: AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B.B. Alston By S. Labrecque

Book Recommendation:
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

BycS. Labrecque

Percy Jackson and the Olympians” meets “Legendborn” in this Middle Grade Paranormal Contemporary Fantasy.

Amari and the Night Brothers” is the first book of the Supernatural Investigations series, a #1 New York Times bestselling series written by B. B. Alston. It’s perfect for young readers who love delving into hidden, magical worlds alongside determined kid heroes.

Although I’ll do my best to avoid spoiling the book with this review, some spoilers are unavoidable. Read at your own risk!

Summary of Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari refuses to believe her brother Quinton has disappeared for good, no matter what the police or her cruel classmates say.

But Amari never expected to find a ticking suitcase in her brother’s closet, or receive a nomination to attend the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs summer tryout. She’s certain that if she joins Quinton’s old department– Supernatural Investigations– she can find out what actually happened to her brother.

Amari must compete for a coveted junior agent spot with students who have lived with the supernatural their whole lives. Not only that, but her own supernatural talent is deemed illegal. As Amari struggles with her self-doubt alongside everyone else’s disapproval, an evil magician’s threat casts even more scrutiny upon her every move. If Amari can’t prove she’s worthy to stay, she’ll never find Quinton– or remain in the supernatural world at all.

Lessons in Overcoming Adversity

If I had to say what the central theme of this book is, it would be overcoming adversity. Multiple characters throughout the story face adversity from the constraints of society and challenges that the bureau places in front of them. How the characters deal with their challenges shows a great deal about their personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and ideals.

Let’s take a look at some examples of this theme of adversity, shall we?

Amari’s Adversity

Amari herself has two factors working against her. First, she’s an outsider to this supernatural world. The other students competing to become Supernatural Investigation junior agents are from long lineages who have participated in the paranormal world for generations. Being an outsider, Amari doesn’t have the tutoring history her peers do.

Second, Amari was born with magic—which is illegal. As such, most people want to see her fail so they can lock her up. She must prove her worth to the bureau in order to stay and win her freedom.

Many students face these kinds of challenges in real life. (Without the magic and pending imprisonment, of course!) Amari’s experience is akin to a scholarship student attending a private school where all the rich children have had the benefit of tutors and other resources to give them an advantage. The odds are stacked against them, and people want to see them fail to prove their own superiority. The book itself outright reflects Amari’s experience within the bureau to her experience as a poor black girl attending a private, dominantly-white school.

Despite all of the people who want to see her fail, Amari never backs down. She rises to the challenges laid out before her and proves herself worthy.

As such, Amari’s story is both relatable and inspiring to young readers. Those who have been through similar experiences can see themselves reflected in her story. And they get to watch her succeed.


Because of her outsider status, Amari makes friends with other outcasts who face their own forms of adversity.

The first is her roommate, Elsie. Elsie doesn’t share Amari’s normal background, but her species makes her different from all the other human students. Elsie and Amari find belonging in each other. Much like how young readers who feel alone in real life can have hope of finding friends who understand and accept them for who they are.

Next—without giving away too many spoilers—Amari discovers other magicians exist in hiding. All magicians are outlaws and outcasts. But how the magicians react to their society’s adversity is different from person to person. Some– like Amari– work to prove they belong, and change how people view them for the better.  Some remain in hiding, without hope of societal change or the chance to live freely as their true selves.

Meanwhile, the magicians who threaten the bureau are lashing out from a place of pain. They’ve had enough of being oppressed. While Amari wants to stay with the bureau, her status as an outcasted magician allows her to understand the villains. In fact, she reflects that what they’re doing is much like how she lashed out in her normal school at the beginning of the book.

Amari realizes that just because someone is cruel, it doesn’t justify retribution. I think this is an important message for young readers. Many stories have the heroes humiliate or find some other way to get back at their bullies and villains, and they and the readers are meant to feel justified for their actions. But hurting others just because you’ve been hurt isn’t automatically justified.


While Amari ultimately succeeds in her goals, she also fails a lot along the way. Some readers might find it hard to keep going when they reach the book’s low point. Amari is beaten down on all sides by her own self doubt, by horrible people who want her to give up, and by a series of failures that set her back. Sometimes, her roommate Elsie seems to be the only positive thing in her life!

Yes, the low point is rough, but it’s called the “low point” for a reason. Keep reading. Just as you shouldn’t give up on the book, Amari doesn’t give up on her goals, and it’s all the more satisfying when she finally succeeds.

The Worldbuilding

The world building gives me the same whimsical feeling as the middle grade novels I read as a kid, like Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Fablehaven.

“Amari and the Night Brothers” features a modern-day American that is kept safe and ignorant by a government bureau dedicated to hiding and protecting the magical community. Nonhumans exist alongside humans in the day to day, but are disguised. That’s pretty typical urban fantasy stuff– the idea that every story and myth we’ve been told has a grain of truth. Magical beings are just out there waiting to be discovered. It’s that element of discovery that makes the book feel so magical. Like any of us could stumble across this wondrous world ourselves. I know that when I was a kid, that was the kind of adventure I’d dream of!

To create that whimsical feel, the author also has to balance hard rules on how the world works and wondrous things we’re not supposed to understand.

On the one hand, the setting must feel plausible. Humanity doesn’t know about the supernatural world thanks to a combination of magic concealers and government cover-ups. Humans keep up with nonhumans through their “talents”– supernatural abilities– which are unlocked via a crystal ball created by Merlin himself. These are all world-building rules that the readers can learn and understand in order to get a solid foothold on the setting.

On the other hand, the bureau has a department solely dedicated to keeping secrets. The headquarters contain a literally bottomless pit. The magical beasts department can fit entire ecosystems into the building. How do these things work? Why do they exist? We never get an explanation on that, which is the whole point. By leaving some things unexplained and not meant to be explained, it leaves the readers room to wonder.

In Summary

Amari and the Night Brothers” by B. B. Alston has a magical hidden world, good and evil magic, and relatable characters who overcome great adversity and learn important lessons along the way. Its sequels are: “Amari and the Great Game” and “Amari and the Despicable Wonders.” Whether you’re a young reader who loves kid heroes overcoming the odds, or an adult reader who never grew out of middle grade novels, this series is worth a try.

Looking for more books like this? Check out my free Ultimate Compendium of Fantastic Fiction Books to help you find your next great read:

Happy reading!

About The Book

Supernatural Investigations: Book 1
Publication Date: January 4, 2022

Artemis Fowl meets Men in Black in this exhilarating debut middle grade fantasy, the first in a series filled with #blackgirlmagic. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, the Percy Jackson series, and Nevermoor.

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Plus don’t miss the thrilling sequel, Amari and the Great Game!

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Add to GoodreadsAbout The AuthorB. B. Alston lives in Chapin, South Carolina. His debut novel, Amari and the Night Brothers, was a #1 Kids’ Indie Next pick and the winner of Barnes & Noble’s inaugural Children’s and YA Book Award as well as a New York Times and indie bestseller. When not writing, he can be found eating too many sweets and exploring country roads to see where they lead. Visit him online at

About The AuthorLabrecque is a fantasy author and geologist. She discovered her dream of becoming an author in second grade thanks to her teacher Mrs. Thorner, who always encouraged her creativity. In high school, she self-published her first two stories with her cousin Shawn’s help.

Labrecque went on to attend the University of Rochester– where she received a Bachelors of Science in Geology and minored in creative writing– and received a Masters of Science in Geology from the University at Buffalo. After college, she returned to her dream of becoming an author.

Labrecque now writes a newsletter and posts book-nerd memes on Instagram as she works on publishing her next novel. When she’s not writing, S. Labrecque can be found hiking, cuddling her cats, and playing D&D with her family.

Dayna Linton
Dayna Linton
Dayna is the owner of not only Novels Alive but of Day Agency, a full-service self-publishing agency for independent authors. She has been assisting independent authors to achieve their dreams of becoming published authors for over 15 years. From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors to the first-time author to every author in between. Dayna is a self-professed bibliophile. While dancing has always been her first love, reading came as a very, very close second, with gardening coming in as a close third. Dayna is also the divorced mom of four adult children and a very proud grandma. She is also a web designer, social media specialist, book blogger, and reviewer. She's a long-time Disney lover and a Utah Jazz, Utah Utes, and Dallas Cowboys fan. See Dayna's reviews here: Dayna's Reviews


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