The Spider King’s Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo is a novel about star crossed lovers in Lagos, their circumstances and how that might keep them together or push them apart.
This book’s had my attention for a while. The title sucked me in to start with, although I knew that it wasn’t going to be a fantasy book which I would have been very up for, and the fact that it’s from a perspective I haven’t read before or know much about sealed the deal.
Our two characters are Abike Johnson, daughter to a powerful and rich man whose business has some shady dealings, and a street hawker who sells ice cream to passing cars on a busy road.
Onuzo’s writing is well polished and easily drags you in and it’s very interesting to see how the characters interact and how their dynamic changes across the book. The first half is absolutely gripping and I could hardly put the book down, but in the second I felt that it drifted from its initial promise and lost its way a bit which meant that by the end I’d gotten a different book than I thought I had.
To give fair warning from here on I will be giving spoilers in this review to properly give my thoughts on the book.
At first the book reads like a romance, rich girl falls for poor boy, and the characters have an interesting dynamic. She has potential for redemption from the arrogant rich girl, who is her father’s vicious protégé, and he needs to learn to open himself up to her and trust her.
We find out that the poor boy’s family has fallen from grace and they used to be rich. That’s fine, it’s one of the reasons that Abike finds him so intriguing and strikes up their romance. But the repercussions of his father’s death and its relation to Abike’s family influence the plot of the second half of the book too much.
It turns out that Abike’s father was the one who killed the hawker’s father.
This gives a powerful element to the way that these two young lovers’ lives have intertwined. However, I don’t feel that this potential for conflict and tension was properly foreshadowed in the book. I think that the book would have been stronger if the hawker character had wondered whether his father really did die in a car accident or if had been some other reason. As it is I felt that when the hawker found out who his father’s killer was he leapt on the road to revenge pretty quickly.
All in all, I really liked the first half of the book but felt it decided to be something else in the second half of the book. The writing was quick and drew you in and the characters were interesting so I think if you are a fan of the dark romances then definitely give this one a go.