Today I have the pleasure of participating in the blog tour for David Mogo: Goodhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive coming into this one as God Punk is not a genre that I have ever explored in the past. But I’m delighted to say that the world building and own voice narration quickly won me over. If you have any interest in YA urban fantasy or even fantasy set away from the common western conventions then this one definitely worth a read.
Title: David Mogo: Godhunter
Author: Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Nigerian God Punk
Themes: Family, Loyalty, Mythology
Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.
This isn’t an easy read full of familiar places, soft language, and common tropes. But rather, it’s diverse, challenging, and wholly fantastic. The dialect takes some time to adjust to, especially as a North American reader, but if you give it some time and put some effort into paying attention it quickly becomes second nature. The premise is unique, with a set of gods that have been cats out of their own world and since taken over Lagos, along with a whole hoard of godlings and taboos. The desolation and reorganization of society gave a very different feel to the standard post-apocalyptic narrative and injected a healthy dose of culture.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any magic, because it’s present in wild abundance. The wizards and gods are both exceptionally well written with unique and distinctive qualities. I appreciated the differences between the two types of abilities with the magic of the wizards being tied to real and tangible things while the power of the gods were entirely intangible and otherworldly. All of the gods powers and personalities were deeply varied, creating landscape that is both exciting and difficult to navigate.
There are some uncomfortable moments, especially when it comes to Fati and the implied acts against her. But as uncomfortable as these moments were, I am glad that they were included as this is not the kind of books that skates around the darker side of life – especially when the societal structure favours a few with power and the masses subservient and impoverished. Now add in an ambivalent government that only cares about the upper echelons and would prefer to live in denial of reality and you have a pretty wicked storm.
I didn’t mind that the whole of the work is actually three novellas packaged together as a single unit. Each instalment had a clearly defined arc, villain, and objective and played extremely well off of the previous sections. They helped to clearly delineate the evolution of David’s development as both a character and powerful demigod. Plus, they facilitated some pretty serious jumps in time without injecting any tedious and extraneous text for plot advancement. My only really complaint is that the dispersal of the world building information throughout at times took on the feeling of massive info dumps. And while this may work better in a. novella setting where you need to pack a whole lot of information in a tiny space, but with the novel format I felt that there was more latitude to spread the spread the information out for a smoother presentation. But, and this is a big but, I am aware that my storytelling preferences are defined by the traditions that I have been brought up in and aware that this criticism might be based entirely on personal preferences and cultural constructs.
David himself is a complex and interesting character. He lives between two worlds in more ways than one – half god and half human he constantly walks a fine line between humanity and hypocrisy in his god hunting. He is also further divided between mainstream culture and the world of wizardry having been raised by Papa Udi, and again by the sleeping and waking worlds as he shifts between planes. These divisions are further emphasized by David’s constant code switching between the normalized western speech that he uses for business and the local dialect that he uses in the comfort of home. Don’t get me wrong, we all do this to some degree, utilizing different speech patterns at home than we do at work, it’s just much more evident in David and Papa Udi’s speech.
Finally, I enjoyed the variety present in the supporting characters. I loved Papa Udi’s unwavering support and complicated past, the complexity if the High Gods personalities and powers, and the depravity of the villains throughout. I would have loved to see some of these supporting characters developed a little more, but that’s just because they were so interesting! If Okungbowa were to put out a collection of short stories or novellas focusing on everyone else I’d be chomping at the bit to read it.
All together I really enjoyed David Mogo: Godhunter. It was a welcome introduction into the world of god punk and Nigerian urban fantasy as well as being a fabulous own voices read.It’s complex, imaginative, and full of action. If you want to read something that’s both fantastical and far from the typical westernized conventions, this book is sure to please. Give the code switching and dialogue a chance to settle in and Okungbowa will take you on a fantastical ride.
About The Author
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian writer of science fiction, contemporary and dark fantasy, and crime fiction. His work has appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta,
Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction; amongst other magazines and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He lives online on Facebook, tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies, and blogs at suyidavies.com. His urban fantasy novel about gods in Lagos is forthcoming in 2019.
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join this tour and providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.