Saturday 14 September 2019

Book Review: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (Fantasy)

Title: Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Author: Marlon James

Publication Date: 5 February 2019
Borrowed from the Library


In the first novel in Marlon James's Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a book about which I am still not sure how I feel. On the plus side, I loved the African mythology, the epic nature of the tale, the memorable characters, and the dream-like quality that pervaded the narrative. On the downside, I thought it unnecessarily convoluted in places, which is likely to put off some readers. I was reading late at night, before bed, and a few times I was confused and had to go back a page or two to sort out where I was and what was happening. It could have been structured better for more clarity of time and place in some instances. Content-wise, I have no problem with the high-level violence and sexual content, but some people will find it upsetting, so if gore and rape are no-go areas for you, I don't recommend this book. In conclusion, I liked it, but it did have some flaws. Thus I am giving it four stars. I would read on in the trilogy, but it's one I will borrow from the library again, rather than rushing out to buy a copy, as I don't see it as a series I would wish to reread again and again. Once is enough.

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