Son of the Storm
Can I give a book more than 5 stars? This one deserves all the stars.
Son of the Storm was one of the books I picked for my African Folklore project for uni and I did not expect to fall in love with it has I have. For this folklore project we were supposed to pick something from an African country to advocate for, to explain why it’s important and needed, why people should care about it and it had to be something that deals with folklore. I wish I could remember everything that everyone in class came up with, there are some amazing projects happening. The only thing I could think of was Africanfuturism. I told my professor I needed help as the only thing I could come up with Africanfuturism and advocating for teaching it in American schools. I was thinking it wasn’t going to work and I really needed a different idea. My professor loved the idea and and gave me all the reasons she loved this idea and told me to have at, with one stipulation. I wasn’t allowed to use any books written by diasporic authors. That means no Nnedi Okorafor No Rene Amayo. No Tomi Adeyemi. So many authors were eliminated. In the end, after weeks of research looking for Africanfuturistic books and Indigenous African speculative fiction, I found 16 books. 4 of those are collections of short stories. I could write a lengthy blog post about publishing in African and the polishing of African authors outside of Africa. It’s problematic. Anyway, Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s Son of the Storm was one of those 16 that met my criteria.
I love this book. Even through all the annotation and research I did into African folklore appearing in the book did not make me love it any less. I am impatiently waiting for Warrior of the Wind. I went between actually reading the book and listening to the audiobook during my uni commute, and the reader of the audiobook is amazing.
The story takes place on the continent of Oon, a stand in for pre-colonial Africa. It addresses many problems of today including climate change, poverty, and racism/xenophobia. It follows a mix-race scholar, Danso, who has been put in the right place at the wrong time, or the wrong place at the right time, as his life is turned into pure chaos because he chose to help an outsider. He learns that nearly everything he was taught in the guild school were the lies of a revisionist history “for the good of the people.” It also follows his intended (betrothed), Esheme, and how her life changes, and the life of those in the capital city change, based on her actions. Then there is the outsider, Lilong, her quest, and how her life is in just as much turmoil. Then she crosses paths with Danso and Esheme and nothing in Oon will ever be the same.. Of course, the fate of the continent lays in the hands of the three.
Son of the Storm is rich in African folklore and custom. Okungbowa has done a remarkable job with world building and making complicated and flawed and mostly likeable characters while creating an amazing story. As the book started Danso and Esheme seemed like an unlikely pairing and I really hoped things would work out for them how their families hoped for in their pairing. She, the serious one with her shit together while he the epitome of the kind of chaos that comes with being too smart and curious for your own good. By then end of the book I didn’t like Esheme much. Understanding her motivations for seeking and taking power doesn’t make her actions more palatable. Danso, on the other hand, got a real life dose of reality and power thrust upon him. He rose to the occasion, came through when needed, and did a lot of growing as a person. As the book ends Danso and Esheme find themselves on opposite sides of history. Warrior of the Wind can not come out soon enough.
Did I mention I love this book?