Strong-willed Naala grows up seeking adventure in her quiet and small village. While the more reserved Sinai resides in the cold and political palace of Nri. Though miles apart, both girls share an indestructible bond: they share the same blood, the same face and possess the same unspoken magic, thought to have vanished years ago with the lost gods.
The twin girls were separated at birth; a price paid to ensure their survival from Eze Ochichiri the man who rules the Kingdom of Nri. Both girls are tested in ways that awaken a mystical formidable power deep within themselves. Eventually, their paths both lead back to the might Eze.
But can they defeat the man who brought the gods themselves to their knees?
I’ve been wondering how I can slip in a review of ‘Daughters of Nri’ into my regular posting schedule and following the cover release of ‘Descendants of the First’ it only makes sense that I encourage you all to buy this book.
I’ll be honest, I know everyone says don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But the cover was the first thing that attracted me to Daughters of Nri sometime last year. It literally screamed Black Girl Magic and I had just finished Children of Blood and Bone. So it made sense that I tried it next.
Woven within the magical pages of this beautiful debut novel, by Reni K Amayo is a story about self-discovery. It’s a story about becoming who you were always meant to be and surrendering to it whole-heartedly. We witnessed it within both girls despite them being in very different settings. Their journeys to accepting their powers and recognising what that may mean was reminiscent of many us young people trying to understand our strengths.
I really LOVED the bond between the twins. They had no idea that the other existed but they could feel the innate magic inside them that binds them together. Although both twins had my heart, I really liked Naala despite her being very impulsive in comparison to her twin Sinai. It was lovely to read a fantasy book with young black girls at the forefront.
This novel was incredible rich in culture. Reni K. Amayo really delved into her Igbo roots and I saw it throughout the novel. I’m so appreciative of authors that include glossaries and maps because it makes unknown words and even just general visualisation so much easier. I ended up bookmarking the glossary separately so I could flick to the back whenever a word came up that I didn’t know. Igbo culture was almost intertwined with the magical elements of the book, almost as if one didn’t exist without the other. It was so beautiful to read.
The first few pages took me a while to get into if I’m being honest. However, after I eventually got settled, I found myself flying through the rest of the novel. Some fantasy novels struggle to set the scene but I was so impressed with the way Amayo managed to drop the reader right into the middle of the action. Despite the small stumble, I soon picked up on what was going on.
Sinai’s journey to self-discovery was something I could empathise with. She was more reserved than her twin and tended to be less impulsive. Despite her shyness, I felt she was just as determined and brave as her twin. It was through her that I saw a huge lesson that I can’t help but share with you all.
Whilst reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, she often repeats her phrase:
“When they go low, we go high.”
In other words, when someone treats you badly don’t try to get revenge or even treat them badly because of it – respond to them with kindness or don’t react at all. Whatever you do, just don’t sink to their level.
Sinai’s relationship with Ina (another character in the novel) made me think of this quote often. The way she handled that entire situation left me speechless because I know for a fact, I would have been so mad. All thoughts of trying to ‘be nice’ or ‘ignoring her’ would have gone out the window, as ironic as that may sound. I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot so I’ll leave it there but it did make me change my mind-set.
However, Sinai’s reaction to that whole situation with Ina taught me that you shouldn’t let revenge rule your heart or let a situation anger you to the point where you become blind to anything else. Allow yourself to be hurt but then try to let it go in whatever way works for you. Especially if it’s someone that clearly hates you. Don’t sink to their level. Be the queen or king you were always destined to be. Life will handle them accordingly
Be the queen or king you were always destined to be. Life will handle them accordingly.
Naala journey to self-discovery was different. She was already very head-strong and impulsive. More often than not, her impulsivity was good and actually helped the rest of the characters out of bad situations. I think if anything, her self-discovery was about thinking first before she acted. However, I really liked her impulsive she was. She was probably the most adventurous out of the two girls but I’m sure that’s because she had more freedom compared to Sinai in some aspects. This wasn’t the case to begin with. She was promised to be married and Naala’s reaction made the marriage sound like a cage. It was interesting to see the two comparisons of caged environments between Sinai and Naala.
Sinai’s environment seemed more controlled under the watchful eyes of the wealthiest, who seemed to be waiting for her to mess up. She should be considered lucky in that sense because she had the education and wealth, some, including Naala, would dream of having. Comparatively, Naala’s marriage came across as though she wouldn’t be free either. She would be forced to become someone she’s not, despite her surrounding environment of her home village, representing a sense of freedom Sinai would never have.
Through this beautiful debut, Reni K Amayo emphasises that you can’t run from who you are. Regardless of the situation, your personality will always shine through. Despite their progress, it is clear both characters have so much more room for growth, which I’m excited to see in the upcoming books.
So if you’re looking for a book filled with adventure, mystery and magic, Daughters of Nri is an incredible debut that will leave you on the edge of your seat in places.
Bring on March, I can’t wait to see what happens in Descendants of the First.