Maya and the Rising Dark (Maya and the Rising Dark #1)

by Rena Barron (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya's search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent's Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation--perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa's stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark--where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya's nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it's up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer's over.

Select format:

More books in the series - See All

Other series you might like


This opening installment of what will be a much-anticipated series is fast-paced and adventurous, offering a fresh blend of culture, community, and folklore rooted broadly in the African diaspora.

Kirkus Reviews

Astonishing series of subsequent revelations leaves readers agog, eager to know how Maya and her pals will use their powers to heal the veil and save their mostly black and brown neighborhood.... A truly #BlackGirlMagic, cloudy-day, curl-up kind of book.

School Library Journal

Gr 5-7—Twelve-year-old Maya is daydreaming about summer break when time pauses and the color begins to bleed from the world. Her two friends, science-obsessed Frankie and occult-obsessed Eli, try to offer an explanation (science and ghosts, respectively) but when creatures from African folklore come to life in their South Side Chicago neighborhood and Maya's father goes missing, the community elders finally reveal the truth: The three tweens are godlings of the Orisha, and Maya's father is the Guardian of the Veil between worlds. With the help of her friends, Maya is determined to find her father and restore order to both worlds. Though Maya is the protagonist of this work, her community is the heart of the story and is celebrated in rich detail. Maya is fierce, observant, and unashamed of her love of comics—much like Frankie and Eli, who are similarly unapologetic of their interests. Their community is vibrant, close-knit, and diverse; neighbors spend time outside, know each other, and look out for one other. The vivid world-building, quick pace, high stakes, and steady stream of legendary African creatures keep readers engaged and invested in the tweens' predicament. VERDICT Mixing in hard choices, believable emotions, tough lessons, and mistakes made with the best of intentions, Barron has created a must-read tale. For fans of "Percy Jackson" who are yearning for a new pantheon, but not quite ready for Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone.—Maggie Mason Smith, Clemson University, SC

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A fresh new fantasy adventure with epic stakes and a fierce heroine at its heart. This book will keep you turning pages well into the night!" —MarcyKate Connolly, New York Times bestselling author of the Monstrous and Shadow Weaver series

"Fantastically fun and full of characters I adore. I can't wait for Maya's next adventure!" —Stephanie Burgis, author of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and Kat, Incorrigible

"Maya is the kind of hero the whole world needs. If you're dwelling into the dark you couldn't ask for a better protector (or a better read)!" —Lamar Giles, author of The Last Last-Day-of-Summer

"In this unputdownable fantasy adventure, the clever, brave, and witty Maya takes a worthy place among the hall of fantasy heroes as she battles against drooling werehyenas, shapeshifting demons, and one seriously creepy Lord of Shadows. An irresistible ode to the power friendship, family, and community can have in the fight against the forces of evil." —Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy and The Cronus Chronicles series
Rena Barron
Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. When she's not writing, she can be found running along Lake Michigan or brushing up on her French. Visit her on Twitter: @renathedreamer
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Clarion Books
Publication date
August 17, 2021
Maya and the Rising Dark
BISAC categories
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV001000 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
JUV012050 - Juvenile Fiction | Legends, Myths, Fables | African
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Missing persons
Fantasy fiction

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!