David Mogo, Godhunter – Review

David Mogo, Godhunter

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Review of a free Netgalley Review Copy.

David Mogo is a hunter of godlings, a cleaner of messes made by the minor deities running loose in Lagos, Nigeria after an event called the Fall, when Gods and Goddesses of Africa’s pantheon(s) come to earth and start raising havoc. He himself is a demigod, the son of an unknown goddess who possesses strength, stamina, and an attitude to match.
His mentor, Papa Udi, is a wizard and a man of few words, and together they begin to take on stronger gods who plan to take over…The world! (Or maybe just Lagos. Or Nigeria? Plans change).

This was a very fun read. The action is meaty and fast, the overall story engaging, and the characters unique and convincing. But for me, and I think for a lot of readers like me (American fantasy fans) the novelty of the setting, and the richness of the language involved, is what is most appealing.

The story and pacing are not incredibly unusual for this kind of urban fantasy–a damaged protagonist possesses extraordinary powers and uses them to battle beings with even more extraordinary powers in a modern setting in a real place. But the details are so much more inviting in this book.

For one thing, despite being an actual demigod, David is immensely human. He is unsure and hesitant at times, but driven by compassion and a desire to do good. He is not your usual urban fantasy banterer, either. He is sincere, if emotionally conflicted, and it’s refreshing.

The people around him are also complex and involved in their own stories, and things happen around the protagonist without him knowing, making the world seem that much more three-dimensional. And what a world!

I know almost nothing about Lagos, but this book brings the city to life in a way that only someone who truly loves it could. It is flawed (there is a shocking amount of feces mentioned) but vibrant, despite its fallen state in the book. I want to know so much more about the city and its people now.

The god characters are also a fun take. They appear to come from the Yoruba pantheon, based on the names, and their natures are both familiar (gods of war and birth are not uncommon in many pantheons) and new (their characters and expressions are unlike the more familiar European pantheons in many ways). I genuinely felt like I was experiencing something new every few pages, which has gotten to be a rare experience as I get older.

And then there are the languages!

This is where the book really shines. David, the protagonist and POV, uses fairly standard English. However, the characters around him use a variety of languages that you would actually encounter in Lagos. Papa Udi speaks Pidgin, which I imagine many American or European readers will find challenging. Some characters speak Yoruba, which David does not–so the words are left untranslated and an enigma. There are names of clothing and cars and places I have never heard of, and I find it almost thrilling to have that kind of linguistic adventurism in a book like this.

This is not a high-brow work of literature. This is not an essay about African culture. It’s an urban fantasy, a fun afternoon-snack book, that still doesn’t handhold its readers through linguistic challenge. I love it.

For those worried about that challenge, though, it’s OK. The book is clear enough that you can get through it fine without puzzling over the Pidgin or translating the Yoruba. You can just sit back and enjoy the ride as David battle gods, gets to know his roots, and becomes an even bigger bad-ass.

Thank you to the publisher and to Suyi Davies Okungbowa for the chance to read this book!

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