David Mogo Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa #BookReview #BlogTour

Lagos Will Not Be Destroyed 

The gods have fallen to earth in their thousands, and chaos reigns. 

Though broken and leaderless, the city endures.

David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one task: capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster Lukmon Ajala. 

No problem, right?

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for David Mogo Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa today. Many thanks to the author, Abaddon Books and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

A post-apocalyptic, own voices urban fantasy featuring gods and wizards was always bound to tempt me and the gorgeous cover art by Yoshi Yoshitani sealed the deal. I was particularly intrigued to read about gods from a pantheon I'm unfamiliar with and the deities here are inspired by the Yoruba Òrìṣà. However, whilst the appearance of the various gods and goddesses are fascinating, especially regarding their appearance and the unique smell which seems to accompany each of them, they mostly fulfil a similar role throughout, as either antagonists or assistants to the main character, David Mogo.
Written from his first person perspective, this is very much his book and he is an appealing and multifaceted main character. At the start of the novel, he is a godhunter, employed on a freelance people to remove troublesome godlings. The story is set ten years after The Falling when the gods fell from the sky and ended up in Lagos. Parts of the city, pricipally Ìsàlẹ̀ Èkó (the local name for Lagos Island) have now become almost uninhabited by humans and are described as godland; black, cold and dying for human warmth. Godlings have a habit of wandering from their epicentre where they become disorientated and forced to take a material form. They are potentially dangerous but for a demigod like David, are easy enough to deal with. His latest job offer is much riskier as he is employed to find Ibeji - twin high gods. He knows it's a really bad idea but when the roof caves in on his house he feels he has little choice but to accept. As part-god, part-human, he doesn't really quite fit in anywhere. He is not trusted by humans or gods and after being left by his goddess mother, has been raised by Papa Udi, a venerable wizard on the edge of the dead zone.
What follows is actually a story of three parts; Godhunter, Firebringer and Warmonger. Each section is essentially a novella but combined they form David's arc as the opportunistic misfit eventually learns of his true capabilities. Although it's no real surprise to discover his origins mean he is destined to be more than just a godhunter, I appreciated that he continues to make mistakes and is a reluctant, often fallible hero. His battles with the various gods are certainly thrilling - they are violent and bloody and there are many casualties along the way but I was just as interested in his internal conflicts. There are a number of times in the book where he is forced to consider the impact of his actions on others and by the end of the novel, there is a definite sense that this is a more nuanced story than merely good versus evil. With that in mind, I was left with conflicted feelings about the outcome of the third part of the book. I understand why it had to resolve in the way it does but there is a part of me that wishes there could have been some other solution. However, I don't see this as a fault of the writing but rather an acknowledgment of David's assessment of the bleak reality of the situation.
As this is David's plot-driven story, told through his eyes only, the secondary characters are less developed although there are inviting little glimpses in to the back stories and motivations of some, most notably Papa Udi and Ogun. The setting of Lagos, however, is brought vividly to life, from the sights and smells to the speech, as the novel is peppered throughout with the local language and dialect. Papa Udi, in particular, speaks pidgin and there is no translation given which means the reader is left to figure out what he is saying. Some people might find this interrupts the flow of the writing but I thought it added an authentic rhythm and reflected the melting pot of languages in Nigeria. The city might be largely abandoned and desolate but the essence of the place and its citizens remains. Although there are numerous mentions of faeces and of the stench of the place, both before and after The Falling, I couldn't help but feel this is an affectionate portrayal of Nigeria's largest city, written by somebody who loves it, despite its flaws. The same could be said of David's eventual understanding of what family and belonging actually means and that flawed and unconventional lives can also equal home.
David Mogo Godhunter playfully twists the traditional mythology and includes several contemporary references to create a fresh and riveting storyline with a witty and engaging protagonist. I don't know if this is the last we'll see of David Mogo  - I hope not -  but I do know that this will definitely not be the last book I read by Suyi Davies Okungbowa.

David Mogo Godhunter is published by Abaddon Books, an imprint of Rebellion Publishing, purchasing links can be found here or support your local independent bookshop by buying through Hive.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian writer of science fiction, contemporary and dark fantasy, and crime fiction. His work has appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta, Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction; amongst other magazines and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He lives online on Facebook, tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies, and blogs at suyidavies.com. His urban fantasy novel about gods in Lagos is forthcoming in 2019.