Ghostroots: Stories

Norton. May 2024. 224p. ISBN 9781324065852. $26.99. HORROR
DEBUT In this debut collection, Aguda, winner of the O. Henry Prize for short fiction, makes her home city of Lagos the star, bringing the place and its inhabitants to life. The 12 thought-provoking speculative stories, featuring mostly women protagonists, a strong narrative voice, and a focus on the unsettling results of generational divides, lay bare the universal human experience, illuminating the menace that constantly lurks just below the surface. The first story, “Manifest,” follows a young woman who might be possessed by the ghost of her grandmother, superbly setting the uncanny tone that defines the entire volume. Other standouts include “The Hollow,” in which an architect attempts to renovate a house that holds generations of secrets in its walls; “24, Alhaji Williams Street,” where a fever is killing each youngest son on a single street, one address at a time; and “Birdwoman,” a tale that is as upsetting as it is beautiful.
VERDICT Aguda’s excellent story collection deserves a wide audience. With a breadth similar to the critically acclaimed Jackal, Jackal by Tobi Ogundiran, this will also appeal to readers of Eugen Bacon, Lisa Tuttle, and Karen Russell.
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