In the tradition of many excellent adventure stories for young readers, Yomi and her little brother Kayode are spending the summer away from their parents and with their exciting Uncle Olu. They are in The Gambia and as the book opens, with a storm raging outside, he’s telling them stories of Ninki Nanka, the Dragon King of The Gambia and Protector of the Gambia River. That night, Yomi dreams of Ninki Nanka being chased and enveloped in a white mist, only to disappear. Except it wasn’t a dream, she saw it all from their window. Uncle Olu refuses to believe her, but clearly knows more than he is letting on. Ostensibly an academic lecturing on African Studies it emerges that he’s also part of a secret society working to protect the sacred Nkara against wicked Beast Hunters. Again, our expectations are met that in an adventure of this kind, it’s the children who will take up the fight against the baddies. It is Yomi and Kay – that latter a good deal more reluctant – who end up saving Ninki Nanka, after a series of hair-raising adventures.
This fast-paced adventure story makes irresistible reading. Yomi and Kay are well-rounded characters, their relationship entirely credibly, and their action-packed exploits very satisfying. Their adventures also provide an excellent introduction to the fascinating folklore of The Gambia. This is the first in a series of Africa-set adventures and it will be worth collecting the set.