The Shadow Speaker

by Nnedi Okorafor

Ejii is fourteen, and a shadow speaker. She is still learning to develop her skills... read more

Ejii is fourteen, and a shadow speaker. She is still learning to develop her skills for reading the hearts and minds of people, plants, and animals when she embarks on a dangerous journey across the desert to join Jaa, the Red Queen of Niger, at a meeting aimed at avoiding all-out war between earth and the world of Ginen. Jaa both intrigues and frightens Ejii, but after “reading” the queen’s intention to murder the Ginen leader, she pushes her fear aside, certain that she must thwart Jaa’s plan if peace is to be preserved. Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu has penned an original and intriguing work blending science fiction with fantasy as she describes a future in which nuclear devastation has changed the very fabric of human existence on earth. Ejii, like Dikéogu, a boy who has escaped from slavery and becomes Ejii’s traveling companion, is a metahuman, endowed with mystical powers that were all but nonexistent before the Great Change. The author’s story is set in part on the continent of Africa, where Ejii lives, and on the fictional world of Ginen. Her settings integrate recognizable elements with richly imagined possibilities in a coming-of-age story grounded by complex and wholly believable characters who are navigating personal challenges and political tension alike. (Ages 11–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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