cover image Shadow Speaker

Shadow Speaker

Nnedi Okorafor. DAW, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1876-2

Worlds collide in the formerly out-of-print gem that opens Hugo and Nebula Award winner Okorafor’s Desert Magician’s Duology (first published in 2007), revised and expanded into an unputdownable Africanfuturist epic. In 2074 Niger, 15-year-old shadow speaker Ejii Ugabe is only just beginning to understand her mystical abilities when her father is beheaded in front of her and her life changes forever. Determined to hunt down his executioner, Ejii treks to the place where other worlds merge with Earth. Along the way, she meets the cagey but strong-willed Dikéogu Obidimkpa, a potential friend who may be more than he seems. Together, they discover both lost legends and purpose among the treacherous desert sands. The postapocalyptic Saharan landscape is striking; technology, magic, and awe-inspiring nature all weave together in the background of this vivid adventure centered on the coming-of-age theme that is a hallmark of Okorafor’s work. The characters, meanwhile, are expertly realized­—especially Ejii, who makes a valiant heroine. The linear narrative is occasionally broken up by excerpts of Ejii’s own writing—an email to herself, an essay she wrote for school—reminding readers of her age and vulnerability. The result is a mind-blowing expedition into a not too distant future world.Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maass Agency. (Sept.)