David Mogo, Godhunter, Suyi Davies Okungbowa – Book Review

Hello Humans! How many Nigerian inspired fantasy books have you read? If you’re like me the answer is probably “maybe one?”. Well, do I have a recommendation for you. David Mogo, Godhunter is a new release from Oxford-based publisher Rebellion Publishing. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria and combines a lot of my favourite storytelling elements.

David Mogo, Godhunter

Goodreads Summary:

Nigerian God-Punk – a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.

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This book took me a while to get into. I found myself picking it up, reading a chapter or so, and then putting it down again. I’ve been pondering why that was and I don’t exactly have an answer but I’ve got a few ideas.

A criticism I’ve seen from some other reviewers is that they felt that this book told rather than showed. That’s something I’ve noticed in some other Rebellion books so I’m tempted to see that as more of an editorial choice but perhaps I’m wrong. While initially, I wasn’t so keen on this, by the end of the book I actually found it to be one of the strongest factors in this book. It felt to me as though this book was…the transcript of a story being told by David Mogo, the first person narrative and the occasional tangents into explaining how something worked totally lend themselves to that style of writing. Seen through that lens as opposed to the style of other fiction (which, let’s be honest, is edited with a western reader in mind because publishing is hugely Eurocentric) this becomes a strength for this book as opposed to a weakness. I wonder if having that in mind from the start would have helped me to get into the story quicker – we may never know.

The book is split into three sections, each around 10-12 chapters long. I thought this was a great decision as it actually feels more like three novellas that take place one after another – again adding to the sense that this is a story being told in parts. I liked that each story had its own distinct arc – it made for really balanced reading. What impressed me was how balanced the book felt despite this split. For a book that isn’t very long, it manages to fit a lot of worldbuilding, information and plot and still feel exciting and compelling throughout.

The worldbuilding and the sheer range of characters, abilities, creatures, settings and more are what made me love this book. It feels like something about which the author knows and cares a huge amount and that is what really springs forth from the page. I rarely find myself liking an adult male protagonist, it’s been the reason I have rated books poorly in the past – but I actually found David Mogo to be a very relatable and well-written character. The cast of supporting characters, even the antagonists are equally fascinating, I felt as though I could read a book from anyone’s perspective and it would be just as powerful and interesting.

I’m left feeling profoundly glad that I read this book, it’s widened my appreciation for diverse fantasy and I’m deeply pleased that it’s come from a publisher local to me. I’m truly excited to read more from this author in the future. While this book won’t be for everyone, I urge you to give it a try and to allow it to flourish for what it is.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

David Mogo, Godhunter is out July 9th

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What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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