What I’m Reading: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Happy Halloween! Ghosties and ghoulies and horror…oh my! I’m dressing as a psychopath for Halloween, because they look like anyone else. 😉 (h/t Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family movie).

This week’s reading selection is Who Fears Death , a speculative fiction/fantasy novel  which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor has been published in Clarkesworld magazine, among other places.


WHo Fears Death Nnedi Okorafor

I first discovered this book years ago, at the San Francisco Public Library. I took a chance on reading this author, and I was not disappointed. I talk about it here:

The story is about a girl named Onyesonwu, which literally means “who fears death”. Onyesonwu is an Ewu child, which is a child born of rape between the more violent and dominant members of the Nuru tribe (which have lighter skin and narrow features) and the more docile, enslaved members of the Okeke tribe (which have darker skin and more traditionally African features). An Ewu child can also be the product of a forbidden liaison between a Nuru and an Okeke. Like all Ewu children, Onyesonwu was born with skin and hair the color of sand. She grew up in the desert, which is where her mother escaped after being raped.

Onyesonwu is an untapped, untrained sorceress; her particular strain of magic lies in shapeshifting. She tries to get training by the powerful sorcerer in her village, but he turns her away because she is female. She keeps trying until he is finally accepts her as a student. During this time she meets and falls in love with an Ewu boy, Mwita, who suddenly arrives in her village one day. He is an integral part of her journey as she completes her training and goes to destroy her biological father, who is a powerful sorcerer determined to wipe out the Okeke with his extremely violent army.

If you are a fan of speculative and/or fantasy fiction, I highly recommend both this book, and Nnedi Okorafor (you should also check out Kabu Kabu, her most recent collection of short stories).