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The Lies of the Ajungo, by Moses Ose Utomi

Review copy provided by the publisher.

This is a very short work, not on the long end of novellas. In the afterword, Utomi thanks people who helped him situate this book on the spectrum from fantasy to fable, and that’s it, that’s exactly what it is, it’s very much in the middle of that spectrum. I was surprised to see in the marketing materials that there will be a sequel, because it works very much on the level of stand-alone fantasy novella.

Which is not to say there is not more to be said of the Forever Desert and the City of Lies, simply because there’s space left that might be filled with almost anything. But Tutu’s story as the hero of his waterless city is very well contained in these 84 pages–the friends he finds where there are said to be no friends, the powers in the rest of the world but also in himself, and the beginnings of the shape of magic in the Forever Desert. The descriptions of thirst are appallingly strong, distressingly strong, and this is not a fable in the sense of it being comforting or easy. This is a tale of betrayal, death, despair, and definitely, certainly lies. After 84 intense pages, you might well want a breather.

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