First of all, I have to tell you guys: Of Priests and Mermaids is amazing! If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do, and ASAP! The book is a collection of skillfully written, fast-moving stories that will keep you glued to its pages until the very end.
The stories are full of surprising twists and complicated turns that leave a reader either gasping for breath or laughing hysterically. You will find yourself flipping frantically through the pages back and forth, wondering how you could have missed that one crucial clue. My advice is when you’re ready for this book, clear a few hours off your schedule, because once you start, you’ll only stop when you’re done.
The stories in Of Priests and Mermaids touch on the key themes of success and accomplishment. In a very subtle way, we get to explore what these words mean as we watch the characters explore their surroundings and define what success means to them. To a little boy of ten, it’s making friends with the new girl who he deems perfect in every way. For a 50-year-old pedophile, it is scoring another win for the night with the help of his trusty Ferrari. For a water spirit, it is being united with her love forever.
As is sure for every choice, there are direct consequences. It is satisfying to go on this exploration of human character from both ends of the looking glass. It gives life to the characters and makes their struggles relatable, to see them thread the thin line between right and wrong, making sacrifices for reasons that are neither good nor bad. It is all part of living.
There is an almost playful change of scenery, alternating between traditional myths and guns blazing, action movie-worthy military accounts. In the space of a few pages, we go from a love story fatally altered by destiny, to a comical reminder to be careful what you wish for, and finally to the senile world of a dying man. We see through the eyes of jealous cats, hear frantic prayers from the fragile hearts of priests, and feel the sad tears falling down the cheeks of young naive boys.
JC Nova writes with the confidence of someone who knows what he is talking about. The vivid details in the stories are simply beautiful. It is refreshing to read something that is at once believable, yet so otherworldly. From his clear description of alien anatomy and his lucid translation of the language they speak, to the covert ninja affairs in Forgive me Father, every detail is covered. The reader’s imagination comes alive.
I think what really makes this book beautiful is the versatility. The stories in Of Priests and Mermaids are miles apart in plot and delivery, but they all come together with a unique unifying style. The writer shows a broad range of skill and dexterity, transforming his work into an art form.
This is a very commendable work of fiction and is available on OkadaBooks. Click here to download it.
Reviewed by Zulaikhah Agoro. She is a fourth-year Building student at the University of Lagos, and Campus Editor at LinkedIn. She curated the Random Thoughts series on frandela.com and her work has been featured on Agbowo, the Okike Prize Anthology and Brittle Paper. She was shortlisted in the top 10 of the Afreada Photo Story Contest 2016 and the top 35 of the Africa Writes x Afreada Short Story Contest 2017. She writes and edits freelance pieces when she is not busy daydreaming about spending money she doesn’t have…yet.