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Paama has left her husband, the glutton Ansige, and in doing so, she's managed to attract the attention of several djombi. One of them decides to give her a rather mysterious gift for rather mysterious purposes.

The back cover copy tells me that this is based on a Senegalese folktale, and as far as I could tell, the central folktale is largely about Paama and Ansige, with the djombi and the Chaos Stick and the tricksters added into the story by Lord. I wasn't surprised to find out; there are still a few seams showing between Paama getting rid of Ansige and Paama's adventures with the djombi, but Lord manages to tie everything back together in the end.

This is a fun little book with a very fun, oral-tradition-inspired narrative voice. The narrator isn't above giving the reader hints or going off on asides, and that's half the fun of the book. It was especially fun for me to get a retold tale that wasn't based on various European fairy tales. Don't get me wrong; I grew up on fairy tales and Robin McKinley and the like, but there's only so many times you can read a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" before wanting another base story. I only wish I was familiar with the folktale this book was based on. Also, as far as I can tell, Lord slips in a lot of references to her native Barbados. Alas, I didn't manage to pick up on any of them...

I was a little worried that the story would be too slight, which I think is a danger of retold tales. Thankfully, there's a bit of a twist where things start to come together. I love that it's about the djombi and tricksters learning to be human; immortals learning humanity is a trope that I very much like. And when the story does that and brings Paama full circle back to Ansige, everything starts fitting together! It's not quite as smooth and polished as it could be—the early chapters on Ansige felt a little long—but the book is much more together than I had expected from the beginning.

I think people who really like retold tales, especially folktales, double especially non-European folktales, will enjoy this a lot, as well as people who like tricksters and ordinary people tangling with gods. Very fun, with a great sense of humor and place, and I am happy to see that Lord is thinking of a sequel!

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Wed, Oct. 27th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
glass_icarus: (ofelia)
Posted by [personal profile] glass_icarus
Ooh, I have been meaning to read this! :)

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Wed, Oct. 27th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] rachelmanija
Oh, this sounds fun!

(no subject)

Wed, Oct. 27th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
minnaway: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] minnaway
I too really liked the narrative voice, although I wanted more...something...at the end. But I will check out a sequel, definitely.

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