cover image Moon Witch, Spider King

Moon Witch, Spider King

Marlon James. Riverhead, $30 (656p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2020-1

Sogolon, the antagonist of Black Leopard, Red Wolf, tells her side of the story in Booker Prize winner James’s brilliant second Dark Star fantasy, which chronicles Sogolon’s life from childhood through to the search for the lost boy at the center of the first book. Furtive Sogolon, the Moon Witch, manages to live far longer than most expect for a girl of “little use” with no family ties. She witnesses mad kings rise and fall and women suffer at their hands, all while the Aesi, or the king’s chancellor, remains a constant at the right side of the throne. Sogolon becomes a living record of all the kingdom has been through—and to the Aesi, this makes her a threat. Now each works against the other as they try to find the lost boy for their own purposes. If book one centers on the nature of storytelling, this volume turns its focus to memory, archiving, and history as Sogolon works to correct the record. The two stories run parallel to and contradict each other, and James mines the distance between them to raise powerful questions about whether truth is possible when the power of storytelling is available only to a few. This is a tour de force. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media. (Feb.)