Let me start by saying this: the subject matter of this book is about as hardcore as it gets. There are witchhunts being conducted in Nigeria, and they do end in killings. I was really looking forward to reading a book that tackled the issue head-on, revealing the mass hallucination that is a witch hunt. The subject matter of this book lends itself well to an intense, dramatic story. Done right, this could have been the book of the year.
Instead, this is a worthless abomination crapped out by someone looking to make a quick buck. Under no circumstances should you purchase this book.
Here’s the plot: A young girl dies, and on her deathbed accuses another young girl of witchcraft. The falsely accused protagonist protests her innocence, but her family turns from her, beats her, etc. It turns out the protagonist is not a witch, because (spoiler alert) the actual witch was a different girl with the same name. The novel ends with all our characters making up and celebrating that the correct witch was punished.
I am agog.
Let me first express my utter disappointment that this book never addresses the possibility that there is no such thing as witchcraft. In the mythology of Ubaka’s world, of course there are witches. Of course they deserve to be punished. The tragedy, according to Ubaka, is not the existence of witchhunts but the accuracy of them. According to Ubaka’s twisted morality, once you find a witch, you can light her up no problem.
The above paragraph is the only quote I authorize for use in any promotional material for this book.
OK, the moral of this book, indeed the entire theme of this book, is completely effed. Let’s move beyond that, and focus on whether the story itself is interesting.
It is not.
Each character is a cardboard cutout; the father who is angry about his daughter being a witch, the protagonist who vainly protests her innocence, the priest who tries to save the soul of the daughter, etc. There’s conflict, but it’s all vastly predictable and without any twist or interesting development. Girl is falsely accused. A whole bunch of people shun girl and make her feel bad. Then at the end, it is announced that Girl was innocent, hallelujah, we’re sorry, and all is forgiven. Everyone hugs. The End.
I’m not kidding about everyone hugging.
I’ve seen more plot, more tension, more interest in a bloody Chick Tract. In fact, this book reads more like your basic morality play, except that (I can’t get over it) the moral of the play is burn the right witch.
A while ago, I ranted about the freedom of the indie market being used to make a quick buck by fraudsters who just strung enough words together to call a book, publishing it, and moving on to the next. This kind of shallow, worthless publication is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about. A Cry of Innocence could have dealt with a very difficult theme in an emotional, tragic way. Instead, it just shallowly skips across the surface of a major problem, never dealing with the underlying social flaws that create the problem, and never giving our characters anything more than rote, stilted lines to say about it.
If I could give this book a lower score, I would. As things stand: