Reading them evoked similarities with fairy tales of Western culture: supernatural forces, shape-shifting, "monsters," battles between good and evil, etc.
At the same time, however, I was struck at how dissimilar these stories were to any fairy tale I'd ever read, or any other tale I'd read for that matter.
There is a tone of ease to the stories, of a casual approach to danger. It is though our "heroes" understand the significance of the crises they face, but they throw off the challenges with a shrug, since in their world, the "natural" and the "supernatural" interact all of the time b/c they live in close proximity with one another. After all, what's the worst that could happen? Death, in both of these stories, is a relative term at best, and is usually correctible.
This casual approach gives the stories a freer feeling of adventure, and allows one to accept anything that happens in these stories, no matter how wild it gets, since Tutuola's imagination in these stories is by turns hilarious, psychedelic, grotesque, and even frightening, but at all times unique.
At the same time, one gets a small taste of the mysticism, culture, and psychology of the West African Yoruba, from which Tutuola in part derives his tales. That taste filled me with a feeling of an entirely different world, one about which I knew nothing, but at the same time, one to which I could relate, as Tutuola's themes of redemption and devotion are common to us all.
The results are two stories that I adored, with no reservations whatsoever. They are simply two of the most wonderful stories I've ever read. As far as children are concerned, while these stories are violent and could certainly inspire nightmares, I intend to challenge my daughter with these stories as soon as she's able to understand what I'm saying, because I think she'll find them just as exciting and adventurous as her old man does.
Without question one of the best books of the 20th century. I can't recommend it more.