Get in My Kindle: She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

Hello, book lovers! I’m actually off from my day job today (yay!), but instead of deep diving into the new book I started yesterday (The Outsider by Stephen King), I’m at the library attempting to bang out formatting and editing work for some authors I work with (although I’m almost done with the first section of The Outsider and my brain is already churning at the skillful structure, the characterization, and the way he’s fleshed out this fictional area in Oklahoma despite the tight focus. I can’t wait to figure out what in the world is going on). I missed Monday’s usual Get in My Kindle, but there are so many great books coming out, I couldn’t miss sharing a new one with you this week. Today, in keeping with the little dip we took into Magical Realism yesterday, I’m sharing a novel described as having “an exhilarating range, magical realism, and history.”

She Would Be King Title: She Would Be King

Author: Wayétu Moore

Release Date: September 11, 2018

Description: Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

Moore’s intermingling of history and magical realism finds voice not just in these three characters but also in the fleeting spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom. “If she was not a woman,” the wind says of Gbessa, “she would be king.” In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: As you might have learned yesterday, I’m not very familiar with magical realism. When anyone said those words to me, the only book I could possibly name was 100 Years of Solitude, which I haven’t read. I’m also not a big fan of historical fiction. It’s not historical fiction’s fault; I just feel like I have to KNOW the history in order to appreciate the fiction, and unless it’s a well-known, interesting event or period in history, chances are I don’t know enough about it to suit me. Nothing about this book’s genres screams “Put me in your kindle, Erica Denise!” So why is it here?

Simply put, the story sounds fascinating. A novel sweeping three countries, with three extraordinary people who possess extraordinary gifts, who meet in a land and somehow bring disparate people together to form a new nation? Intriguing. The fact it pulls together Africans and people of the diaspora and talks about a history I’ve always found myself wondering about raises my interest level.

If you’re playing book bingo or part of a challenge, it’s a perfect storm of checkmarks: diversity, magical realism, historical fiction, a debut novel, a woman writer of color, etc.

I’m a reader who loves to discover a new voice. I’m always looking for debut authors and their works. I search out their interviews to see what they’re passionate about and how they tell a story well before I investigate their books. Through the wonders of the internet, I somehow found myself following Wayétu Moore on Instagram. Her feed is full of posts from her recent trip to visit family in Africa, meeting with people whose ancestors owned her ancestors, and even her recent wedding. She’s shown herself to be a thoughtful writer who knows how to tell a story even in a concise space. I’m looking forward to reading what she does in a longer form.

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Hardback:
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Kindle: 
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Are you a fan of debut novels? Looking to read in a new to you genre? What book outside of your usual reading zone has you intrigued? 

Gateway Books: Magical Realism

If you’ve always wanted to know what magical realism is or get a few book recommendations in this genre, read on. Click on the book covers to find the books on Amazon. 

A few years ago, I read a book that introduced me to a genre of books I hadn’t experienced before: Magical Realism. It was one of those reading experiences I remember so fiercely. It challenged many of the usual pictures I create in my mind’s eye when reading and replaced them with curiosities I could question as abstracts yet accept as completely real.

Considered to stem from Latin American Literature, magical realism is not only a genre of narrative fiction, but also a concept seen in paintings, films, and a variety of different areas of art. It’s one of those genres that leaves most readers confused because they often can’t quite identify what it is about a piece, but know something is strangely well, magical. These elements of magic and the supernatural tend to exist in an otherwise ordinary world. The balance is difficult to achieve yet perfectly splendid when it does because it refuses to reveal everything to the reader.

Here are five books to add to your reading list if the appeal of the imaginary blending with the ordinary is to your tastes. I encourage you to explore this genre and discover for yourself if magic really is real.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava — in all other ways a normal girl — is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne’s uncanny perception of its buyer’s private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat’s every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It’s a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he, breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she, crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place, things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (considered one of the first books using Magical Realism)
One of the twentieth century’s most beloved and acclaimed novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women—brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul—this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strong willed, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.

Shelf talk: Have you read any of these books? Have other recommendations? Let us know in the comments section.