Reviewer: Philipa Coughlan

Publisher: flipped eye (an imprint of Flipped Eye Publishing)       18th November 2021

ISBN 978-1905233786    PB

“Every traveller begins his journey in the Valley of Soul; is the very first gift of new life. It is only this once that he is immaculate.”
Blessing Musariri is a well-known poet but has also produced short stories and was part of a collaborated YA novel. This is her debut adult fiction novel.
I had to admit to taking a long time to settle into the style of the book and once discovered had to often refer to the list of characters on the journey and the meanings of what are known as ‘Cycles/Ways of Being and Travellers’

The central characters twins Afya and Aftab along with their adopted brother Khaled, leave the shelter of a hidden world and begin travelling towards the outside world. Places are
vaguely referred to and the main location appears to be Aden in Africa, but there is a feeling of the ‘unreal’ and an almost sci-fi group those who control various sectors such as The
Keepers of Truth. Society it seems wants to develop after hundreds of years of control although I didn’t feel the conclusion seemed the happiest of consequences of what is a long
book.

The chapters are personal to varied characters and short – often lacking it felt to me in establishing the context of what was happening. As a poet I felt the author emphasised the
innocence and fascination of the main characters – seemingly young and unprepared for the trials which they faced- which often included violence. There is a rich voice of a strange universe, placed in an African landscape, but surreal in its language. Reading it prior to Christmas is this a parable? Is this a deeper insight into the meaning of life? I couldn’t really make a firm argument myself.

As a personal read I struggled with this and did feel it might even again appeal more to a Young Adult reader or those who like the fantasy genre. I would be interested in discovering more about the author’s poetry.