I adore books about witches and those inspired by mythology, especially from cultures that I’m not as familiar with. So I was thrilled when Laura Smythe and Zephyr invited me on this tour, and sent me an ARC of Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 14/10/2021
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Born into a family of West African witches, Sheba’s terrified of her mother who is deadly dangerous. But like mother, like daughter – magic runs through her blood and Sheba discovers powers of her own.
Her touch can unravel people’s innermost thoughts; their hopes, their fears – their secrets. Sheba too can shape-shift. Through the communion of ancient magic, blood and friendship, she slowly uncovers the murderous truth about her stolen childhood and steels herself for the future. She must protect the hunted from the hunter – her mother. (from Zephyr)
OPINIONS: Lionheart Girl is a gorgeously told fable of a girl growing up in a culture where oral storytelling is the centre of life. Sheba is a young girl growing up in a family of West African witches, one that functions almost like a clan, where everyone cares about everyone. Through its setting in a small village, removed from the outside world, the story seems almost out of time, though I’m fairly certain it is contemporary-set.
It is hauntingly written, in a way that wouldn’t be amiss if told while sitting around a campfire. And as some of my very favourite memories are from sitting around a campfire in Tanzania, chatting to my loved ones, that made the story feel incredibly comforting to me. It is the kind of book that transports you into a different world, and introduces you to a whole new set of stories and mythology. And that makes it a win in my opinion. It is also character-driven, rather than a sweeping adventure, which made me really enjoy the narration and writing more.
I also really enjoyed that this was a YA book, but one aimed at the teen demographic rather than the upper YA that is prevalent these days. It is a book that is just as appropriate to read for an advanced ten or eleven year old as it is for a fifteen-year-old. And thus, it is one that is especially well-suited for school libraries! So, if you like slow-burning stories with a strong voice and a mythological slant, this is one for you.