Blackheart Man

S. & S./Saga. Aug. 2024. 384p. ISBN 9781668005101. $28.99. FANTASY
Hopkinson’s (Sister Mine) latest is a mesmerizing novel about colonialism, magic, and myth. Readers are immersed in her goddess-protected island of caimans and nutmeg, where books are memorized through intricate musical arrangements, and women may birth their own twins. Hopkinson’s incredible skill for worldbuilding is obvious. Every piece of lore, magical element, and unfamiliar word is seamlessly layered into the story. Aspects of the world remain slightly out of focus until the plot demands them, readers are never left adrift or inundated with exposition. The world feels alive far beyond the text, making loose plot threads feel necessary. The characters are painted just as richly. Most of the focus is on the weighty character arc of Veycosi, who is training to be a griot, but Hopkinson uses subtle details to reveal the depths within all her characters. The politics of race, class, and colonization cause dangerous island-wide conflict, but personal questions about love, family, and camels are equally engaging.
VERDICT Much like the Blackheart Man of legend, readers will be swallowed whole by this novel and reemerge completely changed.
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