Started with 17 and published with 22 years old – if that is not the dream of any young writer, I do not know what would be. Chibundu Onuzo is the youngest writer so far whose debut novel was released by the acclaimed publishing house Faber and Faber. Deservedly so: this is a great read that distinguishes itself by daring to stray from the norm.
As simple as this story might sound there are enough twists to the plot and novelty in character and setting to make this is an extremely engaging book. The story is told in two voices, Abike’s and the hawker’s, both of which are written in their distinguished style and mindset. The book is well written and easily and quickly read.
The characters are held ambiguous and are not clear cut: they may be likable but they will act in ways that can repulse you. Especially Abike is very interesting - a strong female lead, but not without the definite flaws of being a product of her environment (and that is not your usual ‘being spoilt’, but being forced to know how to ‘play the game’).
The setting suits the story’s environment very well. Nigeria is a country I personally am not very familiar with, so it was great to be able read about it and experience Lagos from both extremes views which are illustrated very well by use of language and the inclusion of Nigerian dialect and slang.
Above all, though, I would like to praise the book for its realism, which I greatly appreciated. This is not a sugar-coated story. Rather, it is very human. It does not shy away from realistic action or outcomes and characters reacting naturally and not always perfectly to these. This makes for an unexpected and very good, satisfying overall plot and conclusion.
I really enjoyed The Spider King’s Daughter and hope to soon read more from this talented new author.