Starlion: Thieves of the Red Night, by Leon Langford – An Equal Opportunity Reader Review
What do you get when you cross Sky High, The Avengers and Yu-Gi-Oh? Toss in a little Harry Potter and Percy Jackson too and apparently, you get this fun middle-grade superhero fantasy novel by indie author Leon Langford.
It’s about Jordan Harris, a supernaturally gifted Black boy in an alternate Houston where the gods of mythology are real and have passed their gifts down to numerous heirs. The best and brightest go to superhero school. The less privileged become vigilantes, running the risk of jail and permanent disgrace. It’s to avoid the latter that Jordan agrees to stop his solo crime-fighting activities and go undercover in a super-school. His mission? To find a pair of villains trying to replicate the greatest tragedy in recent history. With the help of good friends, new teachers, and his stern older sister, Jordan has no choice but to increase his power levels and save the day.
I’m leaving loads of details out of this plot synopsis, but with good reason. This book is complicated — but in the best kind of way. The lore is deep and detailed, with anime-style illustrations to match. Preteen nerd, me would have lived for a universe like this to lose myself in, and I think young readers now will have the same response. I hope the book blows up into a series. It’s a fun read with the kind of complexity that trading cards and movie tie-ins are made of. The illustrations reflect this merch-readiness–a few of them are included here, with the kind permission of the author.
There are also a lot of little Black cultural touches authentic to the real world included in the book that I appreciated–the strained affection between Jordan and his absentee superhero uncle, in particular, touched me. Some of the supporting cast are Latino and Southeast Asian. There are nods to heritage throughout this book that don’t distract from the action and adventure–rather, they add to it. The author explained his vision for this in an email exchange, and I have to say, I’m all here for it.