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A Marchfest for novelists

A new month means new books, and March has plenty of tantalizing releases.

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty came out on March 7. Chakraborty wrote the award-winning The City of Brass, book one in The Daevbad Trilogy (soon-to-be a Netflix series).

The Daevabad books were inspired by Asian and Middle Eastern folklore and explored the trials and tribulations of a crafty con woman (Nahri) after she discovers Daevabad and the six djinn tribes that call the city home.

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi is equally steeped in traditions and stories from the medieval Islamic world. Amina al- Sirafi, the protagonist at the center of this swashbuckling tale, left her pirating days on the Indian ocean behind to build a stable life for her daughter.

But when a crewmate’s daughter is kidnapped, Amina can’t resist the urge to return to the high seas, tempted by the thrill and money.

If this book does not sound like your cup of tea, Hannah Whitten’s The Foxglove King hit bookshelves on the same day. Although, Whitten is a bit of a gamble because she is new.

Her first novel (For the Wolf) debuted in 2021. Readers rarely take chances on new authors. Then again, For the Wolf was a New York Times bestseller.

So, I can see readers flocking to The Foxglove King in droves. Lore, the 23-year-old at the heart of this story, lives in a city built on the corpse of the death goddess Nyxara. Nyxara’s entropy bleeds into the city, poisoning some. But others, like Lore, channel it.

When Lore’s abilities come to light, warrior monks enlist her in the service of the Sainted King, dragging the girl into a conflict she barely understands.

I know next to nothing about Jacqueline Holland, and for a good reason. The God of Endings, which also released on March 7, is her debut novel. Unlike Whitten, we have nothing by which we can judge Holland.

Spending $9 of my hard-earned money on an eBook from a new author is a little off- putting. It will take several positive reviews to win me over. But I like the premise.

Collette LeSange, the protagonist and a lonely artist in upstate New York, is miserable. Her youthful beauty comes from her grandfather, who made Collette immortal like himself. After centuries of turmoil and heartache, her zeal for life is gone.

It takes the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, a stalking presence from her past, and the emergence of a mysterious and growing hunger to change things.

The Lies of the Ajungo brings us to the end of this list (for now). It also takes us away from March 7. Moses Ose Utomi’s debut novel comes to us on March 21 and naturally, it excites me because I always complain about the boring African literature I encounter, most of which drowns readers in stories about war, poverty, Aids, and all the other real-life ills that plague Africa.

I don’t know if Utomi counts because he is Nigerian-American. Either way, I am fascinated by his debut novel. Although, as a brand-new author, Utomi elicits the same uncertainty in me as Whitten and Holland.

In The Lies of the Ajungo, Tutu occupies a city that cuts out the tongues of its occupants when they turn thirteen. They do this to appease the Ajungo Empire, which supplies the city with water.

Tutu will turn thirteen in three days. But he would rather keep his tongue. More importantly, Tutu’s mother won’t last three days. She needs water now, which is why Tutu has ventured into the desert.

The Lies of the Ajungo has a rating of 4.33 stars (after 122 ratings) on goodreads.com, which is encouraging. Whether the novel will perform well enough to justify a sequel remains to be seen.


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