AFRICAN MONSTERS by JO THOMAS AND MARGRET HELGADOTTIR (ed)
Ebook, 198 pages, Fox Spirit.
African Monsters: Volume 2 (Fox Spirit Books of Monsters) is available on Amazon.
Following on from the success of Fox Spirit’s previous coffee-table volume European Monsters: Volume 1 (Fox Spirit Books of Monsters) , African Monsters takes the series a step further, drawing on African mythologies, written by authors and illustrated by artists who, for the most part, have a deep connection with the continent. As the editors say in their introduction, “African mythology is as diverse as all the cultures that embody it, from the ancient Egyptian in the north to the old beliefs of the San desert people in the South. “
With this in mind, there are plenty of creatures here who may be unfamiliar to the casual reader, such as the Impundulu bird of Joan de la Haye’s tale, which manifests as a witches familiar with the power to draw down thunder and lightening on her enemies. Or the mischievous and sometimes dangerous tokoloshe, leprechaun-like creatures that can be found in Nick Wood’s Thandiwe’s Tokoloshe, a dark fairy-tale of a young girl who searches for the end of a rainbow and discovers her own self.
There are water-spirits here, malign entities preying on careless students (Severed by Jayne Bauling) or beguiling sirens (Nerine Dorman’s A Whisper in the Reeds, my personal favourite in the collection.) Spirits of the forest or the veldt, that appear as crying babies or unpredictable shape-shifters. Lizard-women and were-dogs stalk the rain-washed streets of Johannesburg as some of the continents most pioneering and celebrated SFF writers, including Sarah Lotz, Nnedi Okorafor and Tade Thompson, weave their magic. This is a collection as diverse and wide-ranging as Africa itself, dark in places, uplifting in others, showcasing not just stories, but art and comic work from a range of talents. If you want to get familiar with African monsters of every shape and size, this is a great jumping-off point.