Nalo Hopkinson--winner of the John W. Campbell Award, the Sunburst Award, and the World Fantasy award (among others), and lauded as one of our "most inventive and brilliant writers" (New York Post)--returns with a new work exploring the relationship between two sisters in this richly textured and deeply moving novel.
We'd had to be cut free of our mother's womb. She'd never have been able to push the two-headed sport that was me and Abby out the usual way. Abby and I were fused, you see. Conjoined twins. Abby's head, torso, and left arm protruded from my chest. But here's the real kicker; Abby had the magic, I didn't. Far as the Family was concerned, Abby was one of them, though cursed, as I was, with the tragic flaw of mortality.
Now adults, Makeda and Abby still share their childhood home. The surgery to separate the two girls gave Abby a permanent limp, but left Makeda with what feels like an even worse deformity: no mojo. The daughters of a celestial demigod and a human woman, Makeda and Abby were raised by their magical father, the god of growing things--a highly unusual childhood that made them extremely close. Ever since Abby's magical talent began to develop, though, in the form of an unearthly singing voice, the sisters have become increasingly distant.
Today, Makeda has decided it's high time to move out and make her own life among the other nonmagical, claypicken humans--after all, she's one of them. In Cheerful Rest, a run-down warehouse space, Makeda finds exactly what she's been looking for: an opportunity to live apart from Abby and begin building her own independent life. There's even a resident band, led by the charismatic (and attractive) building superintendent.
But when her father goes missing, Makeda will have to discover her own talent--and reconcile with Abby--if she's to have a hope of saving him . . .
Makeda and Abby are twins who were conjoined at birth but separated, and now as an adult Makeda still feels they are emotionally conjoined. This convoluted story, peopled by a bewildering cast of shape-shifters, traces Makeda's quest for independence and her own mojo, apparently lost during the infant separation. It opens as Makeda looks for her own apartment without telling Abby she is leaving. The seedy place where she hopes to live has "Shine" (a kind of aura), a motley assortment of tenants, and "haint-proof" blue ceilings; however, it proves a poor safe haven as Makeda's shape-shifting haint her "daemon" regularly finds and torments her. When Makeda hears that her elderly father has disappeared, she joins Abby and her otherworldly relatives in searching for him and his soul. The story overflows with fantasy: the twins' mother happens to be a lake monster, a kudzu vine named Quashee takes possession of her father's soul, Makeda knits a flying carpet, and Abby dates a young man who used to be a guitar. Although Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring) has a strong narrative voice in Makeda, she's so intent in creating unrelated fantastic situations and events that the book loses momentum and coherence before presenting a simplistic ending.