Shadow of a Thief by Celine Ibe

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Shadow of a Thief by Celine Ibe

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: What do you do when you're told that your mother is your grandmother - and then she dies? A family mystery set in Nigeria.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 570 Date: May 2011
Publisher: ShieldCrest
ISBN: 978-1907629143

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Obinna's childhood had been gloriously happy, living in the Nigerian village with Mama. But when he was fifteen years old Mama told him that she was not his mother, but his grandmother and that his mother and father were dead. Stunned and almost disbelieving he went to bed only to be woken by a loud noise in the night. It came from Mama's room but when Obinna went to her she was dead on the floor. The boy could have lived with neighbours who would have been only too glad to have him, but he set off as soon as he could to his only living relative, his Uncle Raffia.

Getting there was difficult and he would not have made it without the help of a young woman who appeared almost from nowhere, but when he reached his uncle's village Raffia was less than pleased to see the boy. In fact he took a whip to him. Obinna had to stay with him as he now had nowhere else to go, but his uncle treated him like a slave and he was forbidden to leave the compound. Why was his uncle so reluctant to allow the boy to make friends within the village and who was the young woman who had helped Obinna to find his way to the village and who seemed to appear when he was most in need of help?

There's a real sense of Nigeria in this book. Celine Ibe draws on her childhood in a rural village in Igbo land and she brings the area vividly to life, but manages to do it so well by showing us the countryside rather than describing it. I had a real feeling for the extremes of the climate and the beauty of the landscape. She's particularly good with the life the villagers live, but not quite so good with the characters themselves. Obinna, for instance, is a staunch and intelligent young man, but seems to have an almost wilful inability to understand the reality of any situation. There were occasions when I felt as though I was at a pantomime and ought to be shouting a warning to him.

The story – born when Celine Ibo wondered how she would have felt at the age of fifteen if she discovered that she had been living a lie – is well told, but would have benefited from some ruthless editing with regard to length and copy-editing to eliminate misused words and grammatical errors. These are superficial problems though and the author should build on the fact that she has a real skill as a story teller.

I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more of Nigeria we can recommend Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Buy Shadow of a Thief by Celine Ibe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadow of a Thief by Celine Ibe at

Buy Shadow of a Thief by Celine Ibe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadow of a Thief by Celine Ibe at


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