As a pre-teen, I spent endless summers sitting on my porch reading books. It wasn't until I was a young adult that I began reading fiction books where the characters were Black. Prior to that, when I read about Black people, they were "colored" or "negroes", mostly biographical stories my mother believed I should read: slave stories, Civil Rights Movement narratives, and general African-American history. Lord knows, I wasn't going to learn about "my people" sitting in classrooms taught by white teachers teaching from a white curriculum.
My whole life changed when I started reading Toni Morrison books. My life changed again, when I put down Waiting to Exhale and my momma picked it up, curious to know what had caught my undivided attention while the other kids were running up and down the block, enjoying the warm sun. I was surprised she let me finish reading it, with my thirteen-year-old self. But I wonder the dreams I could have dreamed if I were exposed to worlds unknown.... where magic is commonplace, mystery abounds, and adventure awaits.
I have since found such books and in finding them, I eagerly shared them with my son. One such book was The Unveiled. As usual, minding my business and scrolling through Instagram, a book with a purple cover and glowing green eyes caught my attention. I clicked the link in bio to read more... a black author wrote an Urban Fantasy Novel with Black main characters. I knew this was a book I needed to read.
Photo Credit: M.C. Ray
The Unveiled is a story of a privileged sprite by the name of Alya Lightstar, from the house of Meoltan. Alya, along with her parents, her sister, and her good friends Rayloh and Segun, live in Keldrock. The Lightstar family and their associates are wealthy sprites, living comfortable, being served by the Dwala - the talent-less humans. The affluent sprite families hold prominent positions and are highly regarded, seated under a royal family. The setting resembles the late-medieval period, as the homes, roads, meals, and social gatherings are described and by the conversational tone of the dialog.
Alya finds herself in a familiar and peculiar predicament most rich kids find themselves in; comfort becomes redundant and they want more out of their seemingly dull lives. Alya has very little interest in becoming a "mistress" like her Madja (mother). She wants to be a warrior, running with her comrades Rayloh and Segun, traveling further than any elf should go - beyond the border of Keldrock, beyond edgewoods, beyond the veil.
Throwing caution to the wind, Alya and her friends embark on a journey of the unknown, only relying on legends and stories she had been told. Of course, Alya and company find more than they ever expected in their quest to discover what has remained hidden behind the magical veil that shields Keldrock from the rest of the world.
Photo Credit: M.C. Ray
There are many secrets and secret-keepers, Alya soon learns. While experiencing the adolescent transition into young adulthood, Alya is challenged to master her talents taught by her Master teacher. Does Alya choose to walk in the ways of nobility or will she use her gifts to defend her home against who and what may enter her city on the Day of the Unveiling?
I started reading The Unveiled with zero expectations except to escape reality. What I ended with was so much more. I’m not saying The Unveiled is perfect; I am confidently saying that it is gripping, exploring the the ways in which the characters reveal themselves from one chapter to the next. You learn the motivations that drive their decisions, their fears, their insecurities, questioning everything they have ever known and their resolve to defend their home.