Ms. McCalla’s Iniko, a novella, intrigued me with its promise of a tragic love story set in West Africa and featured West African deities. Diverse stories always intrigue me. Octavia E. Butler’s ground-breaking Patternist series and the Xenogenesis trilogy are sci-fi alternate history/reality stories featuring characters of African descent. I guess, I was expecting something along those lines when I picked up Iniko.
While the story’s main character, Iniko, is a complex character that is full of potential for a full ripe story to emerge from and through I did not get the sense of connection I expected and wanted. I found the story to be exposition-heavy (telling) and rather light on the dialog. It took me a while to read this short book only because I wanted to love it and I do love the story, the plot and the potential conflict in the interaction of the characters.
The basic plot is that Iniko is the daughter of two deities but it is unknown to her. Her powers were hidden from her and she thought she was ‘normal’. She finds a man she loves and they marry but Iniko’s father-in-law ruins it all and turns Iniko’s husband against her.
All the while, in the background, there are two distinct forces vying for domination of the universe. Iniko’s true mother, the goddess Mawu and the other opposite evil force is Guhruhi. The evil force has taken over Iniko’s husband and has pitted husband and wife against one another with their child, Zawadi (which means gift in Swahili) in between the very estranged couple as the helpless pawn.
This is a strong plot line with lots of room for development, excitement, action and suspense. I am seriously looking forward to reading Book 1 of the Soul Eaters series to see how Ms. McCalla develops the story, the characters and how she will more deeply incorporate the African pantheon of deities that are intertwined in the plot and the final outcome of this story.