Suyi Davies Okungbowa, David Mogo, Godhunter, Rebellion Publishing, 2019.
David Mogo, Godhunter is an interesting debut fantasy novel. It has its flaws but who could resist the lure of a deserted post-apocalyptic Lagos as the setting?
Gods have settled down in Lagos. As a result, parts of the city are now deserted, abandoned to powerful and strange creatures. David Mogo, a demi-god who doesn't know much about the circumstances of his birth, tries to survive and hunt gods creating havoc for a fee. Papa Udi, his adoptive grand-father, is a powerful wizard who helps him. But David accepts a job that disquiets him.
I have loved the setting. Lagos is one of the largest, most populated cities on Earth and Davies Okungbowa has captured brilliantly the eeriness of this city being almost deserted, its streets roamed by supernatural creatures. The gods who are now living in Lagos come from the different pantheons of the different faiths you can find in Nigeria. The city becomes alive with its own religions while it is at the same time deserted by those who believe, etablishing the interesting idea that humans shouldn't stand too close to the ones they worship.
David is an interesting character. Like many young men in their early twenties, he's trying to find out who he is, though quite literally sometimes, testing his own values and the ones he was brought up with against the reality of a harsh world. I've particularly enjoyed Papa Udi (and yes! He speaks pidgin and you have to understand the meaning from the context and I loved that!) who is a wonderful traditional figure of the wise old man.
The other characters are a bit less well defined, which is a pity. And I have to say that a character gets a bit too close to "disabled/neurodiverse character being magically cured" for comfort but I blame an awkward execution rather than a real intent to "magically cure" that character. Nonetheless, Davies Okungbowa presents us a gallery of characters who are all pretty unique, whether they are humans or gods.
My main gripes is with the pacing which is a bit unequal throughout the novel. At some points, it's hard to put it down. At others, it drags a bit. All in all, the narrative is a bit start and go, and lacks a certain smoothness. It is to be expected with a debut novel. But in the end, it prevents the novel from being completely a "wow" novel in my view, which is a pity because otherwise this is an urban fantasy with scope and epicness.
David Mogo, Godhunter is a fun read. It can be a bit clumsy at times, but it is also full of creative energy and with a wonderful setting. Suyi Davies Okungbowa is definitely a writer I'll keep an eye on in the future because I believe he'll go on to write great things.
In the meantime, if you like epic urban fantasy, then this one, also categorised as godpunk, is for you!
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All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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