Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Construction in Lohonono stirs up spirits for 13-year-old Magdalene. With her friends, Peter and Gimbo, Magdalene soon finds herself on a quest to discover the Legend of East Road and uncover the secrets of the witch-doctor and his demons before its too late.
The author, Hamilton Hill, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
The Roads of Luhonono is a story that takes middle grade children out of their world and time into a culturally rich story set in Africa in the early part of the last century. The children in the story believe in magic and have a sense of wonder that is age appropriate and, more important, convincing to the reader. When the white tribe starts building roads, the villagers become concerned for their safety. Magdalene discovers that their concerns are legitimate when the ancient spirits speak to her.
Hill isn’t an author that talks down to his readers. I’m sure that its tempting for authors writing to a certain demographic to simply but The Roads of Luhonono has a feeling of a work geared towards being a modern classic. Hill’s writing is sophisticated. He includes a glossary of African words for readers wanting to immerse themselves in a vivid experience.
The children of The Roads of Luhonono have a sense of reality. The novel fits easily in the fantasy genre but Magdalene and her friends are grounded but have that wonder inherent in children when they’re younger. Magdalene is curious without being precocious. She’s trusting without being gullible. She is loyal to her friends and they to her and trusts that they will stand by her side in the face of whatever challenges they meet. Magdalene is a girl that female readers will respect for her intelligence and insight. Gimbo and Peter have the sort of strong friendship seen in classic fiction with unique personalities and connections. The children share a realistic dialogue and an age appropriate approach to life for adolescents of their time. They have a limitless sense that is a pleasure for children of any age to share.
The setting is one that the author paints with vivid strokes. Hill is a world traveler and that experience shows in a landscape that gives the impression of authenticity. The African landscape is vast and and pregnant with possibility. The introductions of infrastructure to the area call for overt descriptions are well edited and enhance the immersive experience. Interweaving in the change to landscape is a deep vein of evil. There are well integrated dream sequences that round out the fantasy aspect of the story.
If you have middle grade children or students, The Roads of Luhonono is a smart and informational period piece. Children will enjoy the sense of fun, subtle humor and surreal storyline. There is a well defined threat with an interesting backstory. The story is engaging and the characters familiar but unique. Pick it up today.
You can read an excerpt and buy The Roads of Luhonono: Legend of The East Road by Hamilton Hill on: