She Who Knows: Firespitter

DAW. (She Who Knows, Bk. 1). Aug. 2024. 176p. ISBN 9780756418953. $23. SF
This first in a projected trilogy tells the tale that came before Who Fears Death by giving readers a portrait of Onye’s mother as a young woman who brings both tragedy and prosperity to her family—and violence and exile to herself—in the novel’s vision of an Afrocentric future. In this world, salt is life, but the gods that control access to that life-giving substance have plans that will divide humans into those who submit to them and those who want to take everything for themselves. Najeeba, “she who knows,” is caught in the middle as a young woman who travels the desert and finds great power but pays for her gains with the lives of those she holds dear.
VERDICT Readers who fell hard for Okorafor’s award-winning Who Fears Death (recently optioned by HBO, with George R.R. Martin at the helm) will be thrilled to read this novel that dives deeply into the backstory of one of the fundamental but mysterious characters in that tale. Those who enjoyed Shadow Speaker will find a story with a similar form but featuring a much-deadlier young woman who defies the rules that are intended to reduce and confine her gifts and her spirit.
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