Title – Daughters of Nri
Author – Reni K. Amayo
Publication – October 1st, 2019.
Publisher – Onwe Press
Genre – Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction
A gruesome war results in the old gods’ departure from earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters Of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.
Strong-willed Naala grows up seeking adventure in her quiet and small village. While the more reserved Sinai resides in the cold and political palace of Nri. Though miles apart, both girls share an indestructible bond: they share the same blood, the same face, and possess the same unspoken magic, thought to have vanished with the lost gods.
The twin girls were separated at birth, a price paid to ensure their survival from Eze Ochichiri, the man who rules the Kingdom of Nri. Both girls are tested in ways that awaken a mystical, formidable power deep within themselves. Eventually, their paths both lead back to the mighty Eze.
But can they defeat the man who brought the gods themselves to their knees?
Daughters of Nri begins with an interesting opening scene, that sets the tone and paves the route the plot of the story is going to take, it’s clear from the very first chapter, who the bad guy is and answers the question of the importance of the daughters of Nri. This, of course, left me with enough curiosity and questions to continue reading.
The next chapters further give us insight into the past and present lives of the daughters and believe me it is intriguing enough to keep your interest until I was a bit after a quarter of the book and I noticed the story begin to drag because I was expecting the daughters of Nri to eventually cross paths—but it became evidently clear that wouldn’t happen as the focus was on how they happen to spend their days in their very different lives, rather than action.
Naala one of the daughters is clearly a strong and free young woman, who embraces life to the fullest and then there is Sinai, the quiet and floaty daughter, who is so lost in herself she isn’t focused enough to put two and two together.
Naala comes to the discovery of what and who she is on her own, and after losing everything, still has hope and a fire to get justice to right the wrong that has been dealt people like her. Her character is one I admired, albeit it left little room for her character development to shine.
Sinai, is in the centre, lives with the villain of the story, so she has to play court with the people she interacts with. Here she has trivial concerns, as she has lived her life pampered and sheltered yet on the outskirts of the happening in her world. Then comes the bullying from other girls just because of jealously, I am completely tired of seeing this exhaustive plot device in stories.
This act is what changes the direction Sinai lives takes and thrusts her right in the middle of a thick web, she couldn’t have been able to find a way out of. The matters of court made a huge deal of painting how men are the front centre and how women are nothing but pretty things, I hated it, but not as much as using rape and abuse as a plot device just for a redeeming arc. However, the occurrences in this story were able to show Sinai’s character development.
The story was always reminding us of how powerful and scary the Eze, the villain of the story is, how he’s meant to be able to give or take life and do all sort powerful magic after he defeated the most powerful being on earth but nothing spectacular or sort was seen from him. Rather all his actions were lacklustre and only painted him as a weak, greedy and power-drunk individual, with no astonishing reason for his atrocities.
Now expatiating on the dragging of this book, brings me to its pacing, it isn’t balanced, there were instances where it moved fast and instances where it was slow and focused too much attention on things that could have been brief, the way the information was given was also not the best as important elements of the story are just tossed out like it’s not extremely important to the entirety of the story.
The author’s writing is one that I enjoyed reading, the way she built this world is commendable, the subtle facts and how the setting was portrayed was done remarkably well. I loved the romance in this story, had me blushing and smiling at how cute the aspiring lovers’ interactions were. I loved how friendship was portrayed in this book, especially on Naala’s side and Sinai relationship with the elderly Meekulu, who I adored, despite her deceptive ways of evading questions.
One thing that stood out to me is despite this story being about Africans/Nigerians, the way it is portrayed across the pages isn’t extremely African, yes there is the language, names and hints of culture, but the fact that the author isn’t someone that is used to living with a society where the rulers and majority of people are Africans comes across in the story.
The climax of this story was anticlimatic, the reunion of the sisters didn’t set off fireworks, we had all that build-up just to have a rushed ending? I was very disappointed, I read it and was like that’s it? I can’t also fathom what the sequel of the story would entail, because where it left off is satisfying in itself, and with just a little more of touch-up chapters the story could have ended on a nice note, making it a standalone novel.
For a debut this is astounding work, I enjoyed reading this story as a Nigerian, who can relate to the aspect of the Igbo culture although minimally. As of now, I feel like I’m done with the Daughters of Nri, so I may not be picking up the sequel.
I can say this story is way better than Beats Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi, so if you enjoyed reading that story, you’ll love this one.