Title: The Spider King’s Daughter
Author: Chibundu Onuzo
Date Published: March 2012
I love African novels. I’m Nigerian and reading stories that talk about places I’m familiar with, with references and snippets of the native languages win1s me over completely.
The Spider King’s Daughter is Chibundu Onuzo‘s debut novel. It’s a thrilling drama that tells the story of Abike Johnson, a wealthy seventeen-year-old Lagos girl, and her relationship with a street hawker.
Despite the premise, it’s not a typical romance story. The prose is written by deftly skipping between Abike and the hawker’s point of view. The dialogue is witty and intriguing and the writing style is beautifully scripted.
Abike is a deceptive, manipulative Queen Bee who stands to inherit her father’s fortune. She lives a guarded life with chauffeurs, maids, and pompous secondary school friends. Her father is a wealthy Nigerian who regularly spars with her. They test each other’s wills and limits through uncommon methods, in a bid to break the other’s resolve.
The hawker is a well-mannered boy from a decent family which has fallen on very hard times. Once holding dreams of being a lawyer, he now sells ice cream on the hot streets of Lagos to support his mother and sister.
Their lives eventually cross paths when Abike steps out of her usual bubble to buy ice cream from the street hawker. Initially, she is her usual manipulative self, playing her game of “Frustration”. But as time goes by, she truly begins to fall for him. While this rocky romance unfolds, the novel builds on the back story of the hawker’s past and how it ties in with his newfound romance.
The entire backdrop of the story; the culture, the conversations and the over arching plot made this a very good read. I look forward to reading more of Chibundu’s work.