Cover Image: Moon Witch, Spider King

Moon Witch, Spider King

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Member Reviews

Marlon James is a master writer and storyteller. There’s a complexity to the narrative, and the read is challenging, as one would expect from James’ previous works. I would highly recommend this title to anyone interested in myths, lore, and big stories.
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Moon Witch, Spider King is the story of Sogolon, the 177-year-old Moon Witch, who insists she is not a witch. Fans of Marlon James will not be disappointed: the characters are fantastic, the dialogue outstanding, and the story provides radical twists and shifts in perspective.

This story is all Sogolon — her life, her love, her grief, her vengeance. The events are told in a linear timeline, starting with Sogolon’s birth, childhood and youth, her unconventional family, her transformation into the Moon Witch, and her relentless search for justice and revenge. In fact, the mysterious quest at the center of Black Leopard, Red Wolf really only appears in the end, now seen through Sogolon’s eyes. 

Dominating the novel is Sogolon’s fight to make a place for herself in a corrupt kingdom run by monstrous men. Her clashes with The Aesi, the ageless unscrupulous chancellor to many kings, and their mutual hatred fuel most of the dramatic events in the first half of the novel. Later in the story, Sogolon transforms herself into a vigilante avenger of sorts, defending girls and women from violent and depraved men, and providing her own form of justice.

Sogolon is prickly and sarcastic, and she argues with everyone she meets. The witty dialogue is excellent and brings so much energy to the story. I did find the pacing of the narrative exposition, mostly consisting of minor character background and complex world building, slower and more deliberate in this volume for better and for worse. Overall, the violence is less excessive, but be aware that it’s a grim and dark world, especially for women and children.

This is one of the most impressive fantasy series I’ve ever read. Although it’s the second book in Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy, Moon Witch, Spider King could stand alone or work as an introduction to this spectacular world. Highly recommended for fans of epic fiction and fantasy! 

Many thanks to Riverhead Books for an early gifted copy and NetGalley for the ebook.
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