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Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2)

Amari and the Great Game by B B Alston


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Book Review

Thirteen-year-old Amari must work on her magical skills, solve a twisted mystery, and compete in a series of trials in an effort to save the hidden supernatural world.

Plot Summary

OK, it was really cool for Amari to discover that she had, like, hidden-away magical powers last summer. Just the fact that there was this equally hidden-away supernatural world, right in the midst of her hometown, was a completely mind-blowing experience. And it was also awesome to somehow use her powers to beat a bad guy named Dylan Van Helsing and save her beloved brother, Quinton.

But Amari Peters is actually looking forward to a more laid-back summer this year.

I mean, sure, it’ll be a summer at a supernatural camp, and that deals with tons of magic and things like orcs and wizards. But all Amari wants is just ordinary supernatural stuff—not the deadly, life-risking type. She simply wants to learn about being a solid Department of Supernatural Investigations junior agent. That and get a better handle on her magical abilities. (That’s been a super-hard nut to crack.)

However, a laid-back summer was not to be.

On the last day of real-world school, everything suddenly froze. She and her besty, Elsie, were on a bus when everybody but Amari froze in place for several minutes. Not only that, but Amari later learned that there’s a much bigger Time Freeze problem afoot that’s impacting the very control of the supernatural world itself.

Of course, everybody blames magicians. They’re the only ones with enough magic to even attempt such a feat. And Amari happens to be one of the few magicians that people know about. So that means a lot of the supernatural residents are looking at her with scared or angry looks in their eyes. She didn’t do anything! But they’ve gotta blame someone.

So it looks like Amari will be spending a lot of summer hours trying to figure out that particular mystery.

Oh, but that’s not the only thing on her plate. She was also contacted by members of the super-secret League of Magicians. They offered her a special magic-amplifying relic and a chance to stand up for magician-kind as their (gulp) new leader.

Amari isn’t really interested in that kind of responsibility. (I mean she’s just 13!) But there is someone very, very evil who does want that mantle and its power boost. And that could be disastrous.

The only way to avoid something terrible is for Amari to compete in a series of incredibly tough magician tests. The winner gets the relic, the position and the powers of the loser.

Boy! It would be so much easier to just lay out by the pool.

Christian Beliefs

None, though Christian readers could potentially seek to draw broad thematic parallels between the unseen spiritual world described below and what Scripture has to say about the unseen spiritual world around us, especially in Ephesians 6.

Other Belief Systems

As with the first book in this series (Amari and the Night Brothers) everything you might consider to be part of a realm of the supernatural is very much alive and at play here. Much like the aliens in the Men in Black movies, supernatural beings are hidden and disguised all around us in the real world in an effort to keep ordinary human panic to a minimum.

That collection of magical, mythical, mystical beasties includes fairies, witches, ghosts, wraiths, magicians, talking inanimate objects and more. There’s also lots of supernatural evil in this world. Magicians, for instance, are considered to be the bane of peaceful existence. Amari, however, is considered by many to be an unexpected hero after the events of the first book. And she uses her talents to help others and encourage people to accept others and work to be the best they can be.

In that sense, The Great Game frowns at anyone who would prejudge or be prejudiced against any group of “others” they might encounter.

We learn of a secret league of magicians (many being famous politicians, celebrities and social media stars in Amari’s world) who approach Amari because of the huge amount of untapped power she wields. Unfortunately, their desire isn’t to use that power for everyone’s betterment, but to start a war with the rest of the supernatural world. And Dylan Van Helsing is very much in favor of grabbing the proffered power and pursuing that outcome.

There are several magical relics, one a powerful crown and the other a magic-imbued stone, that directly impact and shape the struggles at the core of this story. In addition, magical rings transport people around, and a magical vow connected to them keeps someone from revealing a secret.

Amari also has to deal with the difference and similarities between “Fair Magick” and its much darker counterpoint “Magick Most Foul.” We don’t see much of the foul magic used, but one dark spell steals away people’s memories. Someone transforms into a massive dragon.

Authority Roles

Most of Amari’s teen friends are upright and kind. And even her former foes, such as Lara Van Helsing, stand up to do the right thing. Amari and Lara actually become Supernatural Investigations junior agent partners who work together to uncover and foil an evil scheme.

Since most of this story takes place in and around the supernatural world, we don’t see much of Amari’s mom. But the scenes we do see—including one with Amari’s brother, Quinton—point to them being a loving family. We also see how Quinton’s past encouragement of a young friend named Jayden has not only encouraged the teen to better things but helped draw out Jayden’s own special supernatural skills.

Amari interacts with two helpful senior Supernatural Investigations agents named Magnus and Fiona. They work tirelessly to aid Amari as best they can. The pair fall in love and marry later in the story.

We meet two characters who are not very helpful or constructive in the world around them: Supernatural Congress Deputy Prime Minister named Bane; and Director Harlowe, who’s in charge of a spy-like supernatural world department called the Department of Half Truths and Full Cover-Ups. These slippery government types manipulate people and use news and social media channels to spread misinformation. They also establish an “UnWanteds” policy that isolates people (including Amari) and labels people and groups as dangerous.

Profanity & Violence

There is no foul language here, nor do we see any drug use. Jayden, who was suspected of gang-related trafficking in the first book, is completely reformed in this book.

There are some perilous moments in the story. Magic attacks include thrown fireballs and waves of flames, pelting rainstorms and shadow tentacles that enwrap a foe and immobilize them. A large group of wraiths—creatures created from the spirits of the dead—physically attack some gathered people. Some large supernatural creatures put forth threatening fronts (with large teeth and rippling muscles) but don’t attack. It’s suggested that the Great Game could well end in a participant’s death.

Sexual Content

An adult man and woman fall in love and marry.

Discussion Topics

How can you be loyal to a friend? How far does it go? Is it disloyal to reveal when a friend has done something wrong? What’s the best way to handle that kind of situation?

Have you ever realized that you have an unexpected skill or gift at something? How did that come about? Do you think we all have some abilities that we may not yet know we have? How do you help someone discover their strengths or be the best person they can be?

Amari’s magical world is all make-believe. But what do you think about the idea of magic? Are there ways that “magic” might be seen as something bad? What about supernatural things? Are there supernatural things in our world?

Have you thought about what the Bible says about supernatural things? Take a look at Leviticus 19:31, Ephesians 6:12 and Psalms 91:11. What do you think these verses are telling us about the supernatural things in our world?

Get free discussion question for books at

Additional Comments

This sequel to the New York Times bestseller Amari and the Night Brothers features an enjoyable teen female protagonist (along with her other upright teen friends). It does deal with a hidden magical/supernatural world that’s populated with everything from weredragons to witches, but it paints its pictures with a broad fantasy brush.

The Great Game proclaims reliance on friends and family; the rewards of steadfast perseverance; and the advantages of bringing out the best in others, including your enemies. The book also points to the detrimental effects of prejudging people or setting them apart as a group of unwanted “others.”

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose