(Original review on my livejournal account
)Why I Read It:
It was the February selection for calico_reaction's "Theme Park" book club (the theme was Women of Color Writing Spec Fic).
This book was, to be trite, "short but sweet". I'm seriously surprised at how much awesome Lord was able to pack into this little novel.
One of the best things about it, hands down, is the narrator. The way the story is told evokes a sense that we're being told the story in the way that oral tradition was passed down. I think lovers of folklore would devour this. It doesn't hurt that Lord wrote the narrator with so much personality, despite s/he never revealing their name or anything about themselves. The narrator is also incredibly humorous (especially at the beginning of the novel) which had me chuckling out loud at times.
The narrator aside, this story really was engrossing. The beginning is fairly light-hearted and not a whole lot happens: it's mostly about Paama's husband coming to look for her in her home town after she's been absent for two years and watching him get up to some ridiculous shenanigans (the narrator's humour really shines here). The second half, after the Gods dabble in Paama's life, becomes a little more serious but very fun to read as well. Actually, I was kind of perplexed at first because the first part of the story with Paama's husband felt unnecessary, but when you get to the very end, everything comes full circle in a very satisfying way.
I would be remiss to not point out the amazing mythology of this novel (novella?). Part of what makes it so great is how exotic it is: I know nothing about African folklore/mythology (I admit, I don't really know the difference between the two) outside of other novels that I've read that deal with this kind of thing (such as Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okarafor, but I'm fairly certain it doesn't tackle the same folklore as Lord), which is also very limited. So I'm always happy when I get to read something like this, which is so different from what I normally read. The world-building was also deftly handled. Lord didn't explain a whole lot, but the magic in the world still felt organic and natural, and it was so easy to just roll with everything and enjoy what was going on.Final Verdict:
This review is relatively short compared to my usual reviews, but I hope I've still demonstrated just how much I enjoyed this book. It's got an amazing narrator who is humourous and full of personality, a great mythology populated by interesting gods, and great world-building. The writing also blew me away; I can' believe this is a debut. It's so self-assured and skilled. If you're a fantasy fan looking for something different, look no further. If you enjoy folklore, this is also a great title to check out. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for Karen Lord in the future.