Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #CulturalFiction In The Shadow Of Ruin by @tdebajo

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading In The Shadow Of Ruin by Tony Debajo

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Tony Debajo’s debut novel, In the Shadow of Ruin, is a novel of generations. There is great strength and potency to be drawn from telling family epics, the weight of legacy and the making or breaking of kindred ties are as universal as any story telling tradition from any time or place.

That said, when we’re speaking about generations, readers should be aware that implied in that are many, many characters to keep track of. There is the first king, who had two wives, who each bore a prince. One of the princes becomes the second king and has three sons in turn, the other prince becomes an outcast with his witch mother. All of the kings and sons and princes have attendant bodyguards, advisors, tribal chiefs they consult with, and paths that they must follow, geographically and spiritually, across the novel, and on a technical level it’s a lot for both a reader and an author to balance.

It is a good thing, then, that Debajo seems to be something of a gymnast, deftly crafting his narrative across two timelines, a half dozen primary characters, and the expansive landscape that he has built for all of this to play out in.

Woven throughout the narrative are the gods of Nigeria, the Orisa, who help or hinder our protagonists and antagonists as gods are wont to do. The Nigerian pantheon is not one I am familiar with outside of their representations in the most recent season of American Gods (2017-present), so getting this take on the Orisa in their “natural habitat”, as opposed to transplants like all the deities brought to America in the TV show, was delicious. They fit the landscape and the narrative as naturally as any of the mortal characters.

The battles, and there are several to be expected when an exiled prince makes a bid to steal his brother’s throne, are appropriately epic in scale and bloody in detail. After the palace is sacked and the royal city burned, the three sons of the second king scatter to allies at three points of the compass and their journeys, likewise, are as arduous as you would expect for fugitives fleeing a wicked uncle. The terrain they flee across is lush in detail, textured by an author with an obvious familiarity and love for the world he has created.

Before wrapping up this review, I will give one spoiler—there is a major cliffhanger. The last pages of In the Shadow of Ruin make it painfully obvious that there is more to come from what Debajo has tantalizingly named his Fractured Kingdom Series. A frustration for greedy readers like me, because we’ll just have to wait for the next one and I’m not always good at waiting.

An excellent first outing for Debajo and a fabulous book for anyone looking for a family epic, a mythic landscape, and a bloody good time, In the Shadow of Ruin does not disappoint on any level.

4/5- but only because I’ll have to wait for the next one.

Desc 1

King Jide Adelani has ruled the lands of the Yoruba in West Africa for many peaceful years, but now his kingdom is in turmoil and the cold grasp of death’s embrace is closing in around everything he holds dear.

Jide spent years garnering the respect and loyalty of the tribes in the hopes of uniting them into one cohesive empire when his half-brother, Prince Olise, returns from banishment to claim the throne as his own.

The offspring of a union between the late King Adeosi and the evil enchantress Ekaete, the bitter Olise has devoted the last decade to one purpose; to seize the throne and rule the kingdom. If he fails, he risks his name being erased from the history of the tribes.

With the support of his mother, a powerful witch whose name is whispered in fear across the lands of the tribes, the outcast Olise now seems unstoppable in achieving his goal.

Facing overwhelming military might and dark forces that he cannot comprehend, Jide must either choose to ignore the warnings of the gods, and seek help from those who also practice dark arts; or risk losing his kingdom.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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11 Worldwide Travel Experiences To Read From Your Armchair #TuesdayBookBlog

Over my years of reviewing I have enjoyed travelling across the world with several authors, while most of us are re-thinking our holiday options, I thought I’d take another look at a selection of my favourite travelogues.

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Salt Water and Spear Tips by Thor F. Jensen. Thor’s world-record circumnavigation of the island of New Guinea in a traditional sailing canoe. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers. Patrick goes to Northeast Indian in search of the people who grow living bridges from the roots of trees. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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Hit the road Jac!: Seven years, twenty countries, no plan by Jacqui Furneaux. On her fiftieth birthday Jacquie took off travelling the world on an Enfield motorbike. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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In Foreign Fields: How Not To Move To France by Susie Kelly. Susie and her husband hoped to find paradise in the French countryside. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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A Visit to Gansu Province for the Chinese New Year by Helen Wallimann. Helen visited rural China and the man-made cave dwellings known as yaodong. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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Fifty Miles Wide by Julian Sayarer. Julian cycled through Israel and Palestine meeting people from both sides of a troubled region. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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Among Friends: Travels in Cuba by Heather Murray. An interesting look at Cuba from the author’s multiple trips which began in 2009. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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Immersed in West Africa: A Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.


Adventure by Chicken Bus by Janet Losole is the memoir of a family who spent three years backpacking through central America. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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Toubab Tales: The Joys and Trials of Expat Life in Africa by Rob Baker is set in Mali. Rob tours the country in search of its music and musical instruments. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

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From A Wonky Path To An Open Road: A short book about a long journey join Janey de Nordwall, her cat and her 1970s VW campervan as they journey around Scotland. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.

My #BookReview of Forbidden Fruit by @stangazemba A descriptive flavour of #Africa

Forbidden FruitForbidden Fruit by Stanley Gazemba
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Forbidden Fruit is a story written about peasant farmers and their families who live in a small village in western Kenya.

Ombima and his family live in a thatched hut in a compound where they grow a few crops and vegetables. To supplement their income they also work for Andimi, a rich tea farmer and businessman.

It is Andimi’s luscious garden which tempts Ombimi into stealing one evening, against his better nature. Alas, his actions lead him down a slippery path.

This book is filled with vivid descriptions of everyday life for the villagers, from daily chores, to medical emergencies, a funeral wake and the Christmas celebrations. The dialogue is challenging for western reading ears, with its mix of local words and mannerisms, but readers will get used to it as they continue with the book.

Certainly one to read if you are interested in everyday African life; the plot unravels slowly, and is not the star of the show, but if you’re after a descriptive flavour of Africa, then give this a try.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book Description

Fiction. African and African American Studies. Winner of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. Desperate to make ends meet, Ombima commits a “harmless” crime. When he tries to conceal his misdeed, the simple farm laborer becomes a reluctant participant in a sinister affair. If discovered, the consequences could be disastrous for Ombima’s family, friends, and a spate of unwitting, gossipy villagers. A delicious tale of greed, lust, and betrayal, Stanley Gazemba’s FORBIDDEN FRUIT is more than a dramatic tale of rural life in western Kenya. The moral slips and desperate cover-ups–sometimes sad, sometimes farcical–are the stories of time and place beyond the village of Maragoli.

About the author

Stanley Gazemba

Stanley Gazemba is an award-winning author and his breakthrough novel, ‘The Stone Hills of Maragoli’, published by Kwani? won the Jomo Kenyatta prize for Kenyan Literature in 2003. He is also the author of two other novels: ‘Callused Hands’ and ‘Khama’, he has written eight children’s books. A prolific writer, Stanley’s articles and stories have appeared in several international publications including the New York Times, ‘A’ is for Ancestors, the Caine Prize Anthology and the East African magazine. Stanley lives in Nairobi and his short story ‘Talking Money’ was recently published in ‘Africa 39’, a Hay Festival publication which was released in 2014. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing Inc, ‘Africa 39’ features a collection of 39 short stories by some of Africa’s leading contemporary authors. Stanley is also in the process of working on an array of creative literary projects.

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