Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
“Fate is fixed like brittle crystal in the dark still, when it came to Mwita, I bow down to fate and say thank you”.
“..but sometimes difference leads to sameness.”
Onye’s spiritual journey of her gifts learning reminds me of tales of my paternal great-grandfather who was an Igbo shape-shifter chief. While reading the book, I found myself liking each character that came along the way for their uniqueness and character flaws. How Onye interacted with them only helped me see leadership in a new light.
Onye was a perfectly flawed heroine. From her brash temper, impulsiveness, to her insecurities and adventurous personality. She was downright annoying and loveable!
A bulk of the plot carried me along her journey to face powerful sorcerer trying to kill her and wipe out Okekes. The author told a vivid story of her paranormal world, juju, culture strives, wars and truly a post apocalyptic Africa. On the journey to rewrite and conquer history other characters embark on their journeys. Luyu, one of my favourite characters gets embolden to live her true self. Mwita becomes a renowned healer, soul bound love and supporter of Onye. I found Sola, the old sorcerer amusing. This story line shows how war and strive affects women. Using Onye’s experiences, a child from weaponised rape ie Ewu we see a lot. Seeing a possible future of my world if people keep killing, destroying and warring based on their religious beliefs, cultural strives and racial clashes. I also loved how technology was infused into the plot. A portable disc here, a tablet there, hidden degraded computers. The Vah people who travel in a sandstorm were an interesting, enlightened people. This enchanting story infused basic knowledge of African magic, spirituality, nature and vital bits of Africa. I found these references endearing. The food was unique and clothing apt. What would cactus candy taste like? I repeated asked the book to sell me some weather gel to rub on my clothes to repelled heat and sunburns.
The end of the novel and Onye’s journey is unexpected. Unexpected losses taint the triumphs. i asked myself the question Mwita asked about destiny. Did Onyesonwu beat her destiny and cheat death through her last shape-shifting feat or did she live her death and fulfil her destiny?
I highly recommend this book to mystic, magic, speculative fiction readers and lovers.
Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction,fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Zahrah the Windseeker, Binti novella trilogy, Akata books and others.
Image source: amethystsaw