Overlook. Dec. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781419769795. $27. FANTASY
DEBUT The day Ozoemena’s uncle died, she developed an itch in her back. After the funeral, her grandmother takes Ozoemena to a priest who shares their family history. Ozoemena comes from a line of Leopards who protect the surrounding villages, and the itch in her back turns out to be a gift/curse from her uncle. She must learn to control her leopard, while navigating classes and new friendships, or risk losing herself to the beast as it hunts for evil spirits at her boarding school. Meanwhile, in another timeline, Treasure and her mother have fallen on hard times after the death of her father, and while trading at the market, Treasure is tricked into bargaining with a spirit. Tempted by the promise of being reunited with her father, Treasure goes on a hunt of her own to meet the spirit’s demands. Much like the leopard’s ability to travel through time and planes, Emelumadu takes readers on a journey across different timelines as they follow Ozoemena’s and Treasure’s paths.
VERDICT Evocative and a little mysterious, this literary fantasy is immersive and full of Nigerian mythology. Recommend this lustrous coming-of-age story to those who like to read across genres.
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