Book Review: David Mogo: Godhunter – by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Noob #1 or standalone

Urban Fantasy

Abaddon; July 9, 2019

386 pages (ebook)

2.5 / 5 ✪

NetGalley furnished me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

David Mogo: Godhunter is a study in contrast.

Looking back on it, there were so many things that annoyed me about it and yet I still can’t bring myself to give it a bad rating. That said, I did lower my initial rating due to the sheer amount of said annoyances and the fact that they did not sit well. The fact is, DM:G does just enough right to make up for its generally mediocre plot, confusing explanations, horrible inconsistency and just odd, uneven pacing.

First off, DM:G isn’t really one full story. I mean… it’s a series of connected, consecutive events, divided into three parts: Godhunter, Firebringer, and Warmonger. Firebringer is set 6 months after the events of Godhunter. The first chapter of it sets up something completely different only to immediately ditch it in the second and continue with the overarching story. It’s such a departure that it throws off whatever flow the plot had established before. The 2nd and 3rd parts seem much more whole, as Warmonger is set only 10 days after Firebringer.

Godhunter opens with David Mogo and a potential client negotiating a job.

As you might have guessed, David Mogo is a god hunter. Something made necessary by the events of the Falling, where the gods were ejected from their plane and forced upon our own. For the most part, David hunts godlings; those lesser entities that have lost their way and made homes in people’s gardens, garages and trees. Upon capture, he looses them on the outskirts of Lagos, where they’ll stay out of trouble. He does not mess with High gods, nor capture anything. And yet, this is exactly what the client is after. Ajala is a local Baále—like a clan chieftain, or duke—and a wizard to boot. And he’s after a pair of high gods (twins), to be captured and delivered to him, no questions asked.

David Mogo initially refuses, but ultimately ends up taking the job.

And that’s where the trouble begins.

For not only is Ajala a renowned wizard attempting to use the gods’ power to overthrow the government’s rule, he’s also but a puppet for some shadowy force, some even greater power. And it falls to David to defeat not only Ajala, but the Baále’s masters as well.

The setting and world-building of DM:G alone is reason enough to read it. Set in Lagos, Nigeria, even at the start of the book I was already outside the realm of urban fantasy I’m used to. Even though the story never leaves the city—only hinting at the country, the continent beyond—the setting never feels crowded and is always refreshing and interesting. Even though Warmonger is set in a comparatively drab locale, it gets by through intermittent side-trips to nearby, vibrant locations.

There were several terms in DM:G I had to look up; I’m not terribly familiar with African folklore, terms, or Nigeria specifically. For the most part, none of these had a satisfactory English translation (not every word translates well, after all—it’s like how Inuit has so many words that all translate to just ‘snow’ in English) so when there’s a word like that, I’ve no issue with it being rendered in another language. The main issue I did have concerned the dialogue. In the text, it was billed as English, but was really some kinda pidgin (a hybridization between two languages). I could catch the meaning of the general conversations from context, and the fact that a lot of English words were involved. A lot of the dialogue was just filler, or greetings, or banal stuff, so it didn’t matter. At first, even, the pidgin made it feel more authentic, more Nigerian. When it got into backstory, insight, or anything technical or spiritual—I often had no clue. There was one bit in particular where Papa Udi was set to drop some bombshell regarding his history with another character, and the resulting conversation was so incomprehensible that I swore at the book and had to resist the urge to throw it at the wall (which is never a good idea when reading an ebook).

There’s more than a bit of stutter in the story; just ODD pacing, all over the place. Though it’s especially bad on the lead up to the epic conclusion. And yet, the conclusion is so epic I found myself not caring over the build-up.

There are so many important details that are never mentioned, it’s kind of amazing. I actually had to edit my review down quite a bit, as there wasn’t room to complain about everything that annoyed me. So I’ll just list a few here. Lack of explanation; lack of backstory; realism in rights, acceptance, homophobia, to name a few; consistency; characters, settings, story items that are introduced and immediately abandoned (not killed off, just never mentioned again); the execution of so many things.

DM:G is so obviously a debut novel. It is riddled with annoyances, missteps, even flat-out mistakes that the author might not have ever considered. It’s well-written, language-wise. Just not so much, plot-wise. And yet, there is a certain charm to it. For the amount it tries and fails, there is are a number of occasions where it tries something new and succeeds. At no time did I find it unreadable, unpalatable, or awful. Most often, there was something annoying, frustrating, or inconsistent. Now, it’s entirely possible you might find one (or all) of its flaws unacceptable. But there’s also a chance you’ll find one of its triumphs ingratiating. And another chance you’ll be just as flummoxed as I am trying to rate it. For, if David Mogo: Godhunter did one thing truly well, it got my attention. I’ll be anticipating more from Suyi Davies Okungbowa—and I’m sure his work will improve with experience and time.

BTW- The cover is AMAZING. Dunno who did it, but it’s just incredible.