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BN Book Review: The One Called Chosen by Isio D. Wanogho | Review by The BookLady NG

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‘The One Called Chosen’ is a captivating journey into a world brimming with magic, tradition, and the eternal dance of fate. The story unfolds against the backdrop of a rural Nigerian village, capturing the complexities of love, identity, and the inexorable tides of destiny.

Urhie, a girl born under mysterious circumstances, is caught in the intricate web of deities and magic. Her life begins as an enigma, a gift from a powerful goddess. Raised by her grandmother in Oto-oro, she remains unaware of her true identity, innocent and ignorant of her extraordinary fate. Meanwhile, Ethan, a young man on a quest to explore his Urhobo heritage, stumbles upon Urhie’s world steeped in tradition and enchantment. He is a product of two worlds, half English and half Nigerian, yearning to connect with his father’s people and embrace his heritage. 

The story begins as their paths intersect in an encounter that blossoms into an intense and secretive romance. However, Urhie is not who she seems. She is the object of desire of the erhie spirit living in Efemena, the youngest son of Oto-oro’s king. Cloaked in the language of the ancient gods tattooed on his skin, Efemena embodies a fate intertwined with Urhie’s in ways they could never have imagined.

In this story, opposites attract as love and betrayal, freedom and bondage, tradition, and broken covenants collide; the story weaves a gripping narrative of indigenous gods and the strokes of destiny that bind the lives of ordinary people. The characters are brought to life in vibrant hues, each wrestling with their unique struggles and aspirations in a world where the divine and the mortal intertwine. Urhie, grappling with questions about her identity and the meaning of life in the face of her aunt’s brutality, finds love that gives her a sense of belonging. Unaware of her roots, she lives an inhibited life, fading into the background until Ethan’s love pulls her out. 

Isio Wanogho’s prose paints a vivid portrait of Oto-oro and its deep-rooted beliefs. The village emerges as a character, with its traditions and mystical undercurrents playing a pivotal role in shaping the destinies of its inhabitants. The novel explores the indigenous gods that shape the lives of the villagers in Oto-oro, presenting a unique perspective on African spirituality, which is often overlooked in mainstream literature. It is a testament to the power of tradition and its hold on ordinary people’s lives. As opposed to her lover, Urhie’s life is shaped by her belief in the intersection between the spiritual and the physical. She convinces him, “…our culture is such a harmony between the physical world and non-physical world, what you may call real and ethereal. We believe there are gods and spirits everywhere and in all things.”

Wanogho skillfully navigates themes of heritage, cultural assimilation, and the age-old battle between ancient beliefs and modernity. As the story unfolds, readers are swept up in a whirlwind of emotions, captivated by the characters’ choices and sacrifices, and transported to a world where the line between the ordinary and the extraordinary is delightfully blurred. We see the powers encapsulating Efemena and how he succumbs, helpless to the excruciating pain that ravages his soul until sacrifices are made. He is oblivious to his ethereal connections with Urhie, and as the story progresses, we are intrigued by the uncanny way their destinies are connected. Ethan represents the modern world and its subtle disregard for traditions and spirituality. He is blissfully disconnected from the spiritual aspect of his heritage even while present in the village. And when the circumstances change for Urhie, his detachment is even more pronounced.

Written by the delectable Isio De-laVegas of the defunct Isio Knows Better column on BellaNaija, this debut brings to life the vivid landscape of rural Nigeria, with its ancient customs, traditions, and beliefs. The characters are richly drawn, and the love story between Urhie and Ethan is touching and honest. Prepare to be spellbound by this gripping saga that transcends boundaries and celebrates the indomitable spirit of those destined to be chosen. It is a must-read for anyone who would love to explore African spirituality, tradition, and culture.

Ardent reader. Reluctant writer. Business Junkie. Occasional Foodie. Aspiring Tourist. Tobi Eyinade is passionate about the book/publishing industry in Nigeria. She is contributing her quota to the book ecosystem through her new startup- The BookLady NG. With The Booklady NG, she provides results driven book PR and marketing services for authors and publishers. She can be reached via: [email protected] or @thebookladyng on Instagram

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