Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This may be an unpopular opinion.
After reading glowing reviews of this book and listening to several passionate reviews with the author about his research and intentions, I was excited to read this book. It was quite a slog for me but I kept coming back to it to try to see what others were seeing.
Around halfway, the parts did coalesce and I felt I could finally sink into the story, but it also grew in violence at this point. So I take issue with two major components - this reads like a mind-dump first draft and I found there to be way too much detail even for an epic fantasy. Less is more! Revision is your friend! Along the same vein, the dialogue was often redundant and slowed the pacing down (I really noticed this at the end when I needed it to wrap up already.)
Part of the praise for the novel is that it has gay characters and is based in mythologies and folklore of the African continent, which is wonderful and I would like to see more of this. Diversity and representation matter. But the content also includes horrifying rape scenes and child abuse that are made more awful because the children are made to survive through magic. Am I just the wrong audience for epic fantasy? It's possible. But I did not feel my time was justified for pushing through to the end.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I really did read the entire thing before coming to this conclusion.
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