Author: Kassandra Flamouri
Publisher: The Parliament House
Page Count: 328
Rep: LGBTQ+ (minor)
Blurb for Magissa:
For as long as she can remember, Chrysa Markou has longed for Pyrga, her native village in the mountains of Greece. But she never thought she would return like this-an orphan, crushed by grief and wracked with guilt over her parents' deaths. Even surrounded by family, she feels like a xeni-a foreigner. A stranger.
All she wants is to belong, but Chrysa instead finds herself beset by vicious gossip, family secrets, and a magical heritage that could derail the future her parents wanted for her. To make matters worse, the one responsible for orphaning Chrysa has returned to unleash a reign of supernatural terror over her new home.
With the help of a handsome but moody Seer and a pair of burly guard dogs, Chrysa scrambles to protect her village from an onslaught of dark creatures commanded by her parents' murderer. As the noose of the killer's malice draws tighter, Chrysa grapples with festering. Is she the victim, the hero...or the true cause of her people's suffering?
Triumph over evil seems worth any cost, until it threatens to unravel everything Chrysa believed she was fighting for.
Wow, this story knocked me off my feet. Part contemporary fantasy, part coming of age, Magissa is one of those rare books that manage to make you feel a full spectrum of emotion. Laughter, tears, joy, frustration, despair and grief, I felt them all.
After the death of her parents, Chrysa returns to her ancestral homeland in Greece, to begin a new life with her mother’s side of the family—namely Chrysa’s grandmother and uncle. But this ambitious, straight A student, finds herself struggling to adjust, and it’s not just her grades that are different. Strange things happen around her. To her.
As it turns out, she’s from a line of Greek witches known locally as magissas. Powerful wise women of the land who heal and guide their people, even if they have to operate in secret, lest they be misunderstood and hated for what they are by their Greek orthodox communities. Chrysa’s grandmother was one. Chrysa’s mother was one. And now Chrysa is too. As the third magissa in three generations, Chrysa is something especially rare—and powerful.
However, Magissa is more than a coming of age—and into power—story. While Chrysa learning how to use her gifts plays a large part of the story, it’s Chrysa’s internal arc of always feeling like the outsider to finally finding a place she feels she belongs and will fight to protect. Magissa is a coming home story. And its power is in the found family and community Chrysa discovers there.
There’s a lot crammed into Magissa’s 328 pages. Some are recognisable YA tropes—navigating a new school, schoolyard politics, new friendships (and enemies) and cruel gossip for instance. Others come from more adult territory, such as duty and responsibility as well as issues of xenophobia and LGTBI+ discrimination, which are beautifully explored without being heavy handed.
A highlight was the Greek lore and language woven throughout. It was seamless. Not once did I feel lost as to what something meant as it was either explained or easily inferred from the context. The result was an immersive, vivid read with a landscape, magical creatures and characters that sprang from the page.
The relationship between Chrysa and her grandmother was also wonderfully done, moving from virtual strangers to transform into something beautiful.
All in all, Maggisa is a fantastic coming of age and found community story that both teens and adults alike can enjoy. Just be prepared for those feels (they hit hard—but in all the right ways).