Angie Thomas is perhaps best known in this country for her award-winning young adult novel The Hate U Give, now made into a film. Here she turns to fantasy for younger teenagers, guided by two inspirations: Harry Potter and African American folklore and history. As in the Potter books, there are two parallel worlds, the familiar world we live in, populated by us Unremarkables, and the magic world of the Remarkables which is alongside ours. The narrator of this story, Nicola Blake, belongs in her magic world as Harry did in his; but, unlike Harry, she knows who she is from the beginning. Her tale opens on her twelfth birthday when she is given a hellhound as a birthday present and expects to be fully empowered as a Manifestor, one of the elite of the Remarkable world, by receiving ‘the gift’ from her father. The story subsequently unravels at a breakneck pace, with peril and revelation at every turn. Nic (ola) is no sooner introduced to a long-lost godfather (and best-selling author), a long-lost twin brother and a long-lost mother, than she sees her parents and her godfather arrested and she, brother Alex and best friend (Unremarkable) JP are off on a quest to retrieve a powerful magical weapon, the Msaidizi, which her father has been accused of stealing. Along the way, they travel on an Underground Railroad that is actually underground (see also Colson Whitehead’s adult novel with that title) and are captured by an Unremarkable group of Southern Grand Wizards (whose name recalls the Ku Klux Klan). This is a bold novel, with the promise of two more to come which has lots to enjoy. The use of African American folklore yields some strong characters, particularly the whiny shape-shifting Hairy Man Junior. Nic’s narrative voice and her exploration of her feelings towards her parents and brother are convincing. There’s some crackling dialogue and a lot of humour, sometimes having fun with the fantasy genre and sometimes, I suspect, with the stereotype of the elders of the African American church. But perhaps there is too much going on. Also, maybe I am being too po-faced, but I wonder about the association of black heroes, like Harriet Tubman, with magical powers, when their courage and strength, remarkable as it was, came from entirely human, and, in that sense, unremarkable, sources.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Richard Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Richard Hill2023-05-19 15:25:382023-05-19 15:25:38Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy