It was the setting of this one that caught my eye. There are plenty of magical schools out there, which I love by the way, but set in Africa? Drawing on West African culture and origin myths? It was this difference that snagged my attention and made me particularly want to listen to this YA adventure.
BLURB: TJ Young spent last summer fighting to unlock the secrets behind his sister’s mysterious death but found himself battling the magic of the ancient Orishas instead. And some of the answers he sought came with a promise he may not be able to keep: to dismantle new human construction on the coastline of Lagos, Nigeria by the start of spring.
But how does a teenager do away with decades of infrastructure in only half a year? He’ll need to enlist the help of new allies, mortal and immortal alike. And thankfully, after surviving the grueling magical curriculum of Camp Olosa, he’s now headed to the most prestigious magic school in West Africa: Ifa Academy for Tomorrow’s Diviners.
But will that be enough as he prepares for what can only end in an all-out war between mortals and gods?
REVIEW: It didn’t take me long to realise that this was the second in the series – but at that stage, I wasn’t sure I would like this one enough to spend one of my precious book credits on listenng to the first book. While T.J. seemed an engaging and sympathetic protagonist, initially the leisurely pace took some getting used to.
That said, the production values on this audiobook are very high – I enjoyed the sound effects at the start of each chapter, as the birdsong, in particular, served as a handy reminder that we’re in Nigeria. And Nekia Renee Martin does a wonderful job narrating this tale. Once I got used to the depth of description, I was able to relax into the story as T.J. struggles to settle into this prestigious magical school. I liked the fact that he battled in most of the lessons and didn’t find much of the magic easy to control, given his evident talent in quirky yet powerful ways. It would have been all too easy to turn him into a Gary Stu and I’m very glad that Bandele didn’t.
The tension continues to crank up throughout the story – the ongoing reminders on T.J.’s phone worked nicely to highlight the countdown to the cataclysmic event. Of course, if you build up such a catastrophe, when the hammer falls it needs to be spectacular. And Bandele’s writing didn’t disappoint. Indeed, I was shaken by the sheer extent of the devastation and some of the deaths – Bandele isn’t afraid to off some of his cast of characters that have played a significant role in the story. In fact, I stayed up later than I should to hear what happened next.
Any niggles? Well, I could have done without the love triangle. I understand that teenage romances are often messy due to the strong emotions and inexperience of those caught up in such feelings – but frankly, I wanted to shake T.J. until his teeth rattled at the upset and hurt he was causing. And he got off far too lightly, in my opinion. So I have taken off a point for that. But otherwise, it’s a cracking YA adventure with a lushly portrayed setting that is both unusual and effective. So, yes – I shall be spending one of my precious credits to read the first book in this engaging fantasy, The Gatekeeper’s Staff, as I want to spend more time with T.J. and those Orishas. While I obtained an audiobook arc of The Windweaver’s Storm from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
This is an interesting setting for a book about a school of magic. I have not visited Nigeria, but do know a number of Nigerians so I know a bit about the culture. The bird song in the audio book sounds lovely.
I thoroughly enjoyed this setting – it made for a fascinating read. And yes – I thought the sound effects at the beginning of each chapter were really successful, when usually I find such embellishments annoying:).
I recently listed to the audio book of Catch 22. It also had some sound effects at the beginning of each chapter which I liked.
That’s interesting – I’ve enjoyed listening to classical works, but that’s a book I’ve never read, so listening to it sounds like a really good idea. I’ve heard efforts which I’ve found thoroughly annoying – and that’s why I was struck by how successful this was.
I have also listened to really bad audio recordings before.
I’m just curious. Do you not have libraries there? That’s how I get so many first books to catch up in a series.
We do – but to my shame, I let my membership lapse well before Covid-19 struck and getting back to regular visits to the library hasn’t been all that high on my priority list. In my defence, because my Long Covid still strikes fairly often and for varying lengths of time – I didn’t want to rack up fines for keeping books past their allotted time. Or force Himself to make an extra journey on top of everything else he has to do for me… But we are blessed with two really good libraries within our local area – I just need to get back into the habit of visiting!
I used to have trouble with getting to and from the library but I only do ebooks and digital audio now which automatically return or I can renew online when they are due. I can also delay them if I don’t have time to read now but remain at the top of the borrow list. I have found digital free library cards in a couple places and I use them all the time.
I do really need to dig out my password and re-activate my library account!
I love Nigeria as a setting for SFF books, and I’m glad to see this YA fantasy takes place there.
Yes! I really enjoyed the whole aspect of West African culture that was subsumed into the magic system – as well as providing an interesting backdrop for much of the action.
I’m afraid that teenage romance and love triangles would have me running for the hills at top speed, although that cover looks quite interesting… 😉
That’s fair enough:). At least it isn’t a major narrative plotline – which is why I felt it was even more annoying. The story could have happily coped without it.