I have to begin by apologizing to the author and the good people at Bella Naija. I was asked to review this book about two months ago and although I read it ever since I received it, I had just been too busy to sit down and take some time to write a proper review.
Although judgment is usually given at the end of a review, I would have to do this at the beginning. The Apocalypse Child was at its best just ok and at its worst, well, something I would not publish. All in all, it was saved by a rather decent ending. It read like a mixture of stories and themes from books such as Helen Oyeyemi’s “The Icarus Girl”, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter Series”, Chukwuemeka Ike’s “The Bottled Leopard”, numerous Mills & Boon novels, the movie “The Omen” and the series Charmed (which I absolutely loved).
The story is set in Chelsea, Greater London, an affluent area in Central London, and revolves around Isabella, a mixed race girl born to her British mum, Rachel Townsend and Nigerian father, Charles Okoye. Isabella was finally born after her mother had experienced several miscarriages and was deemed a miracle baby. Although an outsider at school, it appears that Isabella was fairly normal except for her love for garish clothes and the fact that she was always muttering to herself.
The Townsend-Okoyes had recently employed a voodoo practicing, Haitian butler, Edouard, who introduced us to the less than pleasant side of Isabella. Edouard, upon arriving at the house, had noticed and felt that the pre-teen girl seemed to be followed about by a dark presence who had a liking for pinecones (I wondered as well, but this piece of information seemed important for some reason) whom we later come to know as Dmitri.
The story moves along slowly and we have the usually peaceful Isabella becoming increasingly violent, leading to the beating of her classmate, Clarisse into a pulp, (almost successfully) using mind control to force her best friend Alina to pour a pot of boiling water on herself, the deaths of the young, polish maid working at the Townsend-Okoye house and a rookie police officer and the madness of her mother’s best friend, an accomplished child pyschologist.
Things finally come to a head and Charles Okoye realizes that he himself was born an Ogbanje (or Abiku, for Yoruba readers). This realization gives him the courage to call his estranged family, whom he had not spoken to in almost two decades. His conversation with his mother leads him to make the decision to bring Isabella back to Nigeria for the local dibia to observe.
Now, this is where things get interesting. Rachel decides that the local dibia’s ministrations on her daughter should be deemed cruel and unusual punishment and she steals her and Isabella’s passports and leaves for London the next morning. Charles chases after them and the end was, well… let me leave you on that cliffhanger.
The end was particularly interesting. However, the bad grammar and purported intonations of the “oyinbo” people which the writer wrote about was, in my opinion, poorly captured. Some examples of the bad grammar in the book, which particularly stood out for me, included sentences such as “her mother and grandmother had been an alumni” (page 19), “she had put on a big, dark sunshade that covered most of her face, giving her a movie star look” (page 21), “rally her up” (page 74, rally instead of rile), “a new evidence has surface” (page 92), “their make up were smudged” (page 130), while the poorly done “foreigner speak” included phrases such as “let me go and collect the clothes” (page 63, statement from the Polish maid), “mistake is not tolerated” (page 121, the Triad to Dmitri”, “no one is above mistake” (page 121, Dmitri in response to the Triad), and “come here and I will make you feel like a man” (page 152, Rachel to Charles).
There are also several parts in the book where the Mills & Boon influences come in strongly. Charles is seen in numerous instances walking around bare-chested or with his shirt unbuttoned and his chest rippling even in situations such as when his child is in the emergency unit of the hospital.
I acknowledge the fact that the writer has put in a lot of effort into this book of over two hundred pages. I, however, strongly feel that if the writer had set the story in Nigeria, the writing would have been natural and would have flowed better. Given the numerous wrong references to British living, it is obvious that the writer did not undertake adequate research during the writing of the book.
The Apocalypse Child can be purchased here on Amazon