“Juniper Leaves: The Otherworldly Tale of a Lonesome Magical Girl” by Jaz Joyner (2017)
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Page Length: 250 pages (electronic review copy)
Kinky-haired blerd Juniper Bray used to believe in magic, until she lost her best friend: her grandmother.
Now this 15-year-old shy girl is going on her dad’s research trip to a farm hundreds of miles away to stay with a family she barely knows and the opposite of a best friend, her new arch nemesis, Bree McKinney. Little does she know the next few months Juniper will discover magical powers she never knew she had, stumble into her first crush and well, quite frankly, save the world.
Juniper Leaves is a fantastical coming-of-age tale of a girl who learns to let go, live a little, and best of all, believe in herself — all by her sixteenth birthday. (description from Goodreads)
Juniper Leaves follows the story of a young teenage black girl who embarks on a magical adventure. Her family is still reeling from the loss of her grandmother, especially Juniper since her grandma meant a lot to her and was her best friend. They spent a lot of time together so Juniper feels a heavy absence in her life.
Juniper and her cousin Bree are led on an adventure of lush fantasy. Through their first visit to Canatis the two discover a world where fairies, unicorns, and even Loch Ness monster exists. They find out they have special gifts that allow them to travel beyond earth’s realm and communicate with all sorts of creatures. It’s hard for them to wrap their heads around it, but its their duty to save earth. The more Bree and Juniper learn more about the world of Canatis the more danger comes to them and the people they love. Both girls not only become physically stronger, but grow in their powers as well. They learn to put their differences aside and look out for one another since they are family. The impending war brings a lot of action to the story making it lively.
This was a fun fantasy read! Joyner does a great job of world building and creating a lush fantasy world full of strange creatures and beautiful landscapes. The detail made the reader feel as if they too were in the story. Canatis reminded of some of my favorite fantasy world like Narnia! I also loved Bree and Juniper and how they came to bond over the course of the story. They started out disliking each other because of their rocky first meeting but came to really care for one another. I also enjoyed Juniper’s journey of self-discovery. She went through some tricky obstacles in order to become more comfortable with who she was and her sexuality.
If you’re looking for a diverse fantasy, I recommend checking out Juniper Leaves!
FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.