Happy holidays, y’all!
Today, we’re reviewing one of the most “out-of-the-box” Nigerian books I’ve read in while. This book titled “Odi: A Tale of Two Kingdoms” falls into the speculative genre. It’s written by Karo Oforofuo.
Wands, enchanted trees, and dragons are a few of my favourite things. The speculative genre gets me every time. This genre is one which I feel is never fully explored in African literature, though most of us have overactive imaginations from believing in the supernatural. I think more can be done in way of African speculative fiction, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Daring author, Karo Oforofuo, is one of the few who have not been afraid to out rightly delve into speculative fiction. Her book, “Odi: The Tale of Two Kingdoms” isn’t the normal surface exploration of the Other. Its pages tell of a glorious world filled with form-shifters, dream lovers, and dark magic that’d make Voldemort proud.
The real story starts in our world when the heroine, Ove, meets Omar, a strange man who says her help is needed in another realm or they would all die. Though scared and without a clue what the man is talking about, Ove agrees to help. She is transported to Odi kingdom where she finds a land already devastated by Abentu, an evil monarch from a neighbouring kingdom.
Ove is told she is originally from Odi, but she has no memories of this kingdom which she jointly rules with a twin sister, Natah. She feels an attraction when she meets her bitter ex-fiancé Katomo but that’s about it. However, when she finally gets help from a magician called Moyem, she finds herself reliving her alternate life.
With the story of her past quickly unfolding, she is expected to rein in overwhelming powers and find a way to save her people. Her memory slowly falls into place, replacing whatever she had of the normal world. And, in collaborating with all sorts to help her save the land, secrets are uncovered which shake Odi’s foundations.
For its gloriously complicated and well-woven history, Oforofuo’s Odi is a world I’d love to visit, although I’d rather not live there as I’m no warrior. Oforofuo further garnishes the world by incorporating alliances with the Nri, Nupe, and Borgu civilizations into Odi’s history. Her placement of women at the helm of leadership is also impressive because it disperses the wrong belief that African women did not wield tangible political power in ancient traditional settings.
The amount of thought put into every piece of information is impressive. No blade of grass is just a blade of grass. It shows she is aware that most information in a book should work towards enhancing the reading experience or advancing the plot. Her plot is seamless, all loose knots are tied, and save for a few rushed revelations, I’d say this is a really good book.
I wish more African speculative fiction writers would attempt to build worlds instead of dragging their characters through earth’s broken system. We could really do with our own Westeros.
Want a copy of “Odi: The Tale of Two Kingdoms”? Get it here at the OkadaBooks Store.