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The Spider King's Daughter [Paperback]

Chibundu Onuzo
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Paperback, 15 Mar 2012 7.44  

Book Description

15 Mar 2012

Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize

The Spider King's Daughter is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet set against the backdrop of a changing Lagos, a city torn between tradition and modernity, corruption and truth, love and family loyalty.

Seventeen-year-old Abike Johnson is the favourite child of her wealthy father. She lives in a She lives in a sprawling mansion in Lagos, protected by armed guards and ferried everywhere in a huge black jeep. But being her father's favourite comes with uncomfortable duties, and she is often lonely behind the high walls of her house.

A world away from Abike's mansion, in the city's slums, lives a seventeen-year-old hawker struggling to make sense of the world. His family lost everything after his father's death and now he runs after cars on the roadside selling ice cream to support his mother and sister.

When Abike buys ice cream from the hawker one day, they strike up an unlikely and tentative romance, defying the prejudices of Nigerian society. But as they grow closer, revelations from the past threaten their relationship and both Abike and the hawker must decide where their loyalties lie.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (15 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571268897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571268894
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 321,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Terrific.' --Lisa Appignanesi, Independent

'This is a dark, tense, gripping first novel, peeling back layers of Nigerian society.' --The Times

'Chibundu Onuzo's confident debut alternates between [Abike and the hawker], deftly capturing their contrasting perspectives on life and society ... there are promising flourishes here that catch the eye.' --Financial Times

'An energetic thriller debut.' Observer

Two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks are the central players in a fiery Nigerian revenge tragedy ... as Runner G digs deeper, the results are explosive.' --Guardian

'Onuzo deftly portrays two disparate worlds contained in one sprawling city: one heaving with sweat, casual violence and poverty; the other coolly distant and, in light of such hardship and brutality, absurdly concerned with European brands - and equally violent.' Irish Times

'In Chibundu Onuzo's compelling and assured debut, an ill-fated romance is played out on the mean streets of Lagos between an 18-year-old street hawker, Runner G, and super-rich 17-year-old Abike Johnson. So far, so Romeo And Juliet, except there's nothing innocent about Abike, and there are no family feuds (seemingly) and no family ties either.' --Daily Mail

'Debut novelist Chibundu Onuzo's story of two star-crossed lovers in Lagos quickly outstrips its premise to become a much darker and more thrilling tale ... [Onuzo] keeps a taut hold of her material so that the threads of revelations of the past gradually enmesh the reader in a sinister tangle of events. Told with controlled clarity, The Spider King's Daughter is a gripping, involving and very impressive debut.' --Metro

'This is a dark, tense, gripping first novel, peeling back layers of Nigerian society.' --The Times

'Debut novelist Chibundu Onuzo's story of two star-crossed lovers in Lagos quickly outstrips its premise to become a much darker and more thrilling tale ... [Onuzo] keeps a taut hold of her material so that the threads of revelations of the past gradually enmesh the reader in a sinister tangle of events. Told with controlled clarity, The Spider King's Daughter is a gripping, involving and very impressive debut.' --Metro

Book Description

A compelling, tender and heart-wrenching début novel from a young Nigerian writer.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing debut 13 Mar 2012
By Skb
Format:Paperback
This brilliant debut novel brings together issues of class differences with a compelling love story set in the boisterous backdrop of modern day Lagos (Nigeria). It ends with a telling statement about how far love and divided loyalties will go when truly tested.

"The Spider King's Daughter" features Abike Johnson, a shrewd, wealthy and somewhat naive young woman (when you read her different encounters on a Lagos highway, you'll understand why!). When she's not trying to beat her rather large family at a continuous game of wits and influence, she is making sure her status as "Queen Bee" is unchallenged by anyone among her peers. One day, she encounters a young hawker with an interesting past in the boisterous streets of Lagos and both begin an interesting relationship.

This might sound like your typical Romeo and Juliet story- but trust me, it isn't. As the author skilfully weaves a tale around the blossoming love between these two young hearts, she leaves us with a very profound message about the human capacity for change and our expectations about love. Not only was I alternating between laughing out loud, smiling wryly and gasping at the action-packed parts of the book, I felt very much a part of the scenes that Chibundu described. I've never been to Lagos but I could feel the hawker's exasperation as he ran from car to car in the sweltering heat and humidity of the city. I felt I was at Tejuosho market with the hawker and Aunty Precious as they attempted to choose from a large number of "bend-down-select" clothing stores. I was reminded once more of the immense wealth of Nigeria's "1%" as Abike was chauffeured into her sprawling compound everyday.

The book offers a compelling portrait of contemporary Lagos, its unique beauty and deprivation represented in equal measure. How exciting it is to see such work from a new writer with a genuine voice!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having recently read several African novels, I was intrigued to read this book which had good reviews and an interesting plot-line. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished the novel I was left feeling rather disappointed - not by the plot itself, but by the ultimate execution of it. The writing style and technique was intelligent and engaging, but overall the author did not fully develop the characters and intricacies of the plot and the book therefore felt too short and rushed to be satisfying. Amongst other questions, I was left wanting to know much more about Abike's relationship with her father and ultimately about herself - who was right about whether she was just misunderstood, or as manipulative as many characters claimed? None the less, this novel gave a great account of modern Nigerian life and immersed the reader in the culture - I just wish the author had given us more!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mighty good read 13 Mar 2012
By Arbee
Format:Paperback
Recently, book critics seem to equate a plotless book with originality. Here is proof that a book with a plot can be original.

'The Spider King's Daughter' is a wonderful reminder of why I love reading fiction. It is first and foremost a story, one that grabs you with its strong voices and a very definitive sense of place. While the plot-a relationship that begins across class lines- seems familiar, there is enough here in the characters and in the textured descriptions of some lives in contemporary Lagos to make Ms. Onuzo's effort distinctive. I was right there in the Lagos traffic, with the familiar smells, the raised voices and of course, the heat. If anything, I would have liked the book to go on longer and to delve even deeper into the exploration of the main characters and their places in society. All in all, an enjoyable read that was over too quickly.

Maybe I'm biased because I'm from Lagos, but you'll never know if you don't read this book. : )

A promising debut. Looking forward to more from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOT a Nigerian 'Romeo and Juliet' 30 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
...but better. Lots of little revelations about the Nigerian system, culture and tradition revealed, all hidden in an apparent love story. Finished it in a day, interrupted my plans just for this. To be honest, very slightly confusing but definitely worth reading. Definitely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into hawking world 13 July 2013
By winnie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too many coincidences for my liking, weakened story. Great writing though. Specially enjoyed family like relationships formed in the streets. would read this author 's other books
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly recommended read! 27 Mar 2012
By OAE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amazing writing, well woven with many great lessons.
I learned a lot about people from reading this book. Chibundu has painted in an entertaining way, what truly does happen in many families and nations. These things occur although with a twist in detail, which makes the book more admirable for staying original. I hope more people read this book because it is best to stay educated and informed.

Chibundu is creative. I acknowledge all those she thanks for helping her put this book together, for the encouragement, for the imagination and for allowing this young writer maintain a sense of ingenuity throughout the pages of this debut. Well done. Looking forward to reading many more. Waiting patiently as I'm still thinking of what to do next with the lessons learned...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Must Read 14 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An interesting read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly brilliant! 16 Jun 2014
By Kenny
Format:Paperback
I was soooooo not expecting this to grip me the way it did! What started off as an unlikely romance between a young (spoilt) rich girl and a not so normal street hawker quickly twisted into a dark tale of deceipt and (dare I say it) death. I also really enjoyed the relationship between the two protagonists and the secondary characters. Will be looking out for more from this author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! A compelling storyline told from two simultaneous ...
A great read! A compelling storyline told from two simultaneous points of view which worked really well. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Banj
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read.
Read it over a couple of days. Intriguing story about a mismatched couple. Easy going. Nice for travel or a quick weekend read.
Published 2 months ago by Michael Mukasa
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it
Took me home right back home ...the realistic clash between opulence and poverty. Nice twist and turns, nice writing style..I really enjoyed it. Didn't want the experience to end..
Published 7 months ago by A. Meleki
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting story. I wish it were longer as I would have loved the characters to develop fully. The writer definitely has much more to come in future!
Published 8 months ago by 'Delia
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly written. Engaging till the end.
Chibundu has done a fantastic job of walking the reader through the thoughts of the two key characters, taking a clever approach. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Hanat_Akordor
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
Being a Nigerian myself, I am completely engaged with this book. Very funny and honest. I havenot finished yet but so far it's hitting all the right notes.
Published 9 months ago by spooky
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
What I liked most about this book is that it didn't turn out into the typical love story. I loved the way the author gave the two main characters a very detailed description of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Abigail Owusu
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent read
As much as the beginning had so much promise in terms of characters and plot, I found that story line somehow weakened towards and became a little bit predictable. Read more
Published 12 months ago by remrems
4.0 out of 5 stars fairly good read for such a young writer
impressed by how well written the book is, the story line is lacking in depth but In summary, it is a good read
Published 15 months ago by Miss N. V. Alfred
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