The Girl with the Louding Voice meets The Water Dancer in Chịkọdịlị Emelụmadụ’s magical, award-winning literary debut, Dazzling, offering a new take on West African mythology.
Treasure and her mother lost everything when Treasure’s father died. Haggling for scraps in the market, Treasure meets a man who promises to change their fortunes, but his feet are hovering just a few inches above the ground. He’s a spirit, and he promises to bring Treasure’s beloved father back to life if she’ll do one terrible thing for him first.
Ozoemena has an itch in the middle of her back. It’s an itch that speaks to her patrilineal destiny, an honor never before bestowed upon a girl, to defend the land and protect its people by becoming a Leopard. Her father impressed upon her what an honor this was before he vanished, but it’s one she couldn’t want less—she has enough to worry about as she tries to fit in at a new boarding school.
But as the two girls reckon with their burgeoning wildness and the legacy of their missing fathers, Ozoemena’s fellow students start to vanish. Treasure’s obligations to the spirit escalate, and Ozoemena’s duty of protection as a Leopard grows. Soon the girls’ destinies and choices alike set them on a dangerous collision course. Ultimately, they must ask themselves: in a world that always says no to women, what must two young girls sacrifice to get what is theirs?
“An entrancing tale of two Nigerian girls whose fates are intertwined in Igbo myth and magic . . . with exhilarating depictions of the spirits . . . Emelumadu delivers the goods with her satisfying coming-of-age story.”
“Evocative and a little mysterious, this literary fantasy is immersive and full of Nigerian mythology. Recommend this lustrous coming-of-age story to those who like to read across genres.”
“In a story imbued with magic, the lives of two girls in 1990s Nigeria run on a collision course . . . A densely detailed tale of tradition and girl power.”
"Dazzling lives up to its name. I was entranced by the story of Treasure and Ozoemena – two young women who find themselves tested by forces both human and uncanny. Ch?k?d?l? Emel?mad? has crafted a coming-of-age tale like no other."
—Samantha Shannon, author of The Priory of the Orange Tree
"A vibrant, immersive read that takes the reader on a dizzying journey through Nigerian mythology. Emel?mad? does what I love best in this novel: she lays bare human weaknesses and celebrates female strength; she builds a world bursting with magic, bright and visceral; she has created two immensely memorable protagonists and woven a story that will linger in my mind for a long time."Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
“I am truly dazzled. Emelumadu has revealed surprising layers of our world and given me the eyes to see them."Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring and A Single Thread
"I was immediately impressed by [Emelumadu's] virtuosic facility with language and fierce imagination. Enchanted by both Ozoemena and Treasure, I wondered how their parallel stories would come together . . . [they] converge in an unexpected, explosive, and deeply satisfying conclusion that had me turning right back to the beginning to appreciate all that I missed the first time round. Bravo! I envy other readers their first and subsequent reads."Melissa Fu, author of Peach Blossom Spring
“Dazzling powerfully draws upon Igbo mythology, spirituality, and storytelling tradition to tell the story of these girls and use it to illustrate so much about modern Nigeria society—a world of contrasts existing side by side.”
"Dazzling is a soaring, gritty, beautiful, morally complex story about loss and longing, despair and hope. By the end, Dazzling will fill the scarred leopard's heart beating inside you. A marvel."Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
"Dazzling is a feast of shimmering, beautiful prose. Dark and humorous in places, it is an incessantly pleasurable read. Emelumadu has gifted us a thing of beauty.'Chika Unigwe, author of Black Sisters Street
"This book is a masterful storm. The voices are so precise and clear they cut you. Reading through the pages took me deep into the dappled world of Ozoemena and her leopard, and I will never be able to leave."Doreen Cunningham, author of Soundings
"Ch?k?d?l? Emel?mad? has written one hell of a book. Dazzling is bold, funny, louche, smart, shocking and very, very addictive. It seizes you by the scruff of the neck and plunges you into a world packed with juicy characters, macabre magic and plotting to die for. I loved it."Meg Clothier, author of The Book of Eve
"I struggled to come up with a line that captures the magic within. Emelumadu's singular debut is uncanny and affecting in equal measure."T. L. Huchu, author of The Library of the Dead
"Emel?mad?’s novel is a magnificent coming of age story, empathetic in its exploration of character and culture within a rich tapestry of African mythology and magic."Cherie Jones, author of How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
"Dazzling is an erudite, original and beautifully written first novel. Ch?k?d?l? Emel?mad? is a writer to watch."Christie Watson, author of Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and The Language of Kindness
"Dazzling had me hooked right from the start. I loved the distinct voices, the vivid imagery, and the grieving, confused, deeply human girls Ch?k?d?l? Emel?mad? brings to life on the page. In Emel?mad?’s capable hands, Dazzling manages to be at least three things at once: a boarding school romp, a deeply moving tale of grief, and an exploration of faith and strength."Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother's Lovers