In this collection of short stories, author Lilian Adusu often employs “magic realism” to advance the plot. The stories tend toward the dark side, with the characters frequently troubled or threatened by events that can’t be rationally explained.
The opening story, “Talluta, The Zulu Boy,” is one of the strongest in the collection, with well-developed foreshadowing of an ominous incident. “Allen’s Jinx,” is an original and curious tale of a woman who meets a well-dressed stranger who inexplicably attracts attacks from people who are disabled. While the stories share a common sense of impending doom, not all end badly. In “Mullah’s Ride,” a passenger on a bus careening out of control recalls his difficult childhood, then hears a voice offering a solution to their potentially deadly ride.
These stories often read like slice-of-life vignettes. That would be fine if this were a memoir, but short stories require solid beginnings, middles and ends, something often missing from these tales. Too frequently, the author throws in a supernatural event to advance the story, rather than organically building to an inevitable climax. Some stories end with characters simply resolving not to think or talk about the event. While fiction does not require pat endings, readers deserve a sense of closure. Instead, these tales often feel as if the author didn’t know where to take the story, and so, in a sense, threw up her hands and moved on.
Some of these stories have potential, and the sentence-by-sentence writing speaks to Adusu’s study of the craft, but more time in developing the plots is needed to make this collection a satisfying read.
Also available as an ebook.