Tricksters, spirits, and lesser gods. Wondrous cooking, matter-of-fact humor, and magical journeys. What fun! Karen Lord offers a charming, colorful adventure story based on Senegalese folklore that’s just a delight.
It tells the tale of Paama, a pragmatic, determined, good-hearted young woman and magnificent cook. She’s married to a glutton of epic proportions, whose undying appetite ultimately forces Paama to leave the marriage. The djombi, or immortal spirits, are impressed by Paama’s true heart, and bestow on her the world-altering Chaos Stick. Unfortunately, another djombi wants the Chaos Stick for himself, and drags Paama into his vengeful mission. The story’s sprinkled with several entertaining little side plots, which flesh out the world nicely.
There’s a narrator here, too, which plays a huge role in the enjoyment I got from reading. The novel is written in the oral tradition, with a strong storytelling bent. The narrator recalls details, exclaims, makes witty comments, and addresses the reader directly. She’s as much of a character as the rest of the cast. The narrator also throws in the occasional wisdom bomb in the form of a profound remark. The conversational tone keeps it feeling light, even when the subject matter turns serious, and the story flies by. I highly recommend you take a whirl through Lord’s enchanting piece.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short.