Three people are born into the world in the nineteenth century. They all have the world against them but each of the three is born with a gift. Gbessa is born in a West African village on the day that a terrible event has occurred, therefore she is cursed and exiled from her people. She cannot be killed. June Dey, is born to two people who both foster paranormal powers, both parents die when he is young. His power is super strength which he uses to survive in a Virginia that is known for its plantation slavery. Lastly, there is Norman, his father was a British Colonizer in Jamaica who took advantage of his Maroon slave, Norman’s mother. Norman shares the same powers as his mother, he can disappear. They all come together in Monrovia to use their gifts to fix the rifts that are held between the African American settlers and the native tribes.
There were three main characters and they all felt like main characters. Each and every one of them felt important to the story and they were all equally interesting. A lot of books have that issue when there are multiple point of views, where it is obvious the author had a favorite character and did not build as much on the others. That is not an issue with ‘She Would Be King’, Moore did a fantastic job at making sure all the characters had depth to them and that they developed throughout the story. Another thing that I would like to point out is that their powers did not define them, they had something to them other than their gifts.
The reader really gets immersed into this story. I do not know what did it, I think maybe it was just the history and a world that I did not know much about. I like that our characters all came from different backgrounds but yet were still similar and you could see how they can relate to one another. Even though their walks of life were all so different.
The writing did have a magical feel to it to go along with the magical realism genre that is thrown into this story. I think that the author could really succeed in building her own world in a fantasy or sci-fi novel. This is Moore’s debut work and I would like to see what other ideas she has.
This plot reminded me a lot of One Hundred Years of Solitude, with it being magical realism and then the story has a location building around it. In the case of this novel it is a country rather than a village. I am so happy that all our characters did have to come together as well. I hate when you read a novel with multiple view points but they never connect, the reader will not get that here. I learned so much here. I have, of course, heard of Liberia but I honestly do nothing else behind the name and location. I have zero idea why we did not learn this in school. I think it is important to American history to learn how freed African Americans made their way back to Africa to start a country of their own. Very interesting.
My one complaint is that the ending was not satisfying. It is open-ended. I feel like maybe we, the readers, can have a sense of hope or worry about what might happen to the characters. If this is what they were made to do, if this is how they are supposed to end. We don’t know but maybe that is poetic in a way.
I enjoyed this novel as it opened so many doors of research for me. Trust me, I will be on my phone all night researching this time period, cultures in Africa, and the history of Liberia as a country. I learned so much, that is something I always want to get out of reading and life in general. I want to learn everything there is to know. I want to gain some bit of knowledge out of everything that I do and I gained a lot of that with She Would Be King. I will be adding any other work by Wayetu Moore onto my to be read list as I do think she is a good writer. I recommend this book to all of you!
3.5 out of 5 stars.
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