Azreya Aztec Priestess
A young Aztec girl's journey of courage, self-discovery and emancipation.
Azreya is born with light eyes and a mark on her hand. Her parents fear she is cursed, and they seek advice from a shaman, Nukpana, just two days after her birth. Nukpana confirms Azreya is Tepeyollotl, the Aztec god and Lord of Darkness, with hidden powers and the ability to transform into a beast. Nukpana suggests he trains Azreya to subdue her inner beast, help her learn to control it, and harness her gifts. Just before her fourth birthday, Azreya is sent to live with Nukpana. He trains her daily through games, physical activity, and meditation. She connects with her inner beast, a spotted leopard she names Tecuani. She also discovers her special gift is the ability to hear other peoples thoughts and see the future. For many years Azreya is hidden away, but, as Nukpana attempts to reintroduce her into society, she is ridiculed because she is different to other children.
As Azreya harnesses her gifts, Nukpana asks her to help him perform his shaman duties incognito. Azreya is able to help many people by looking into their future and diverting them from danger. Soon, word gets out that Nukpana is an exceptional shaman, and he is asked to help the King. But when Azreya learns that Nukpana has lied to the King, and also realises he has exploited her for many years, she decides to escape. Alone, afraid, and scared her inner beast might surface, Azreya goes in search of her family. But, when Nukpana reveals Azreya’s true identity, she is soon pursued by the King and his army.
Azreya, Aztec Priestess, by author Tricia Copeland is an engrossing chapter book for middle grade readers based on Aztec mysticism and mythology. The book is told from Azreya’s perspective, a young girl born with special gifts and extraordinary powers. The book follows her journey from birth to her teenage years, as she is torn from her family and forced to live with a shaman who exploits her for his own personal gain. It is a journey of courage, self-discovery, and emancipation, as Azreya fights for her life and her people. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and the illustrations by Matt Maes are divine.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A fascinating and engaging book about Aztec mythology for middle grade readers.