I can’t tell you how excited I was to read this book. It was one of the many ARCs I received at Book Expo and the first one I had signed by the author, Wayétu Moore. In She Would Be King, Ms. Moore weaves the history of the formation of Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic and land created for free slaves from the United States, with the story of three very special people born to protect it. Gbessa, born in the village of Lai, is an immortal cast out from her village as a witch. June Dey, born from the love of a captured slave and a very special woman (I will not spoil it), is raised on a plantation until he realizes his supernatural strength and speed can save him. And Norman Aragon, child of a white colonizer and Maroon slave, has the ability to make himself disappear right before your eyes.
Reading a book about black people with powers never gets old. Too many times, the stories are about them being poor, uneducated, and helpless until the white man comes in to save them. Luckily, there’s none of that nonsense in this book and it is refreshing, empowering and a novel I’m glad I read first.
Ms. Moore created characters who gave me hope, even while reading about the horrors of slavery. But she didn’t write trauma porn. Instead, she wrote facts without overdoing it while including Gbessa’s, June Dey’s and Norman’s stories. One of my favorite scenes in the book is the fight between June Dey and the white overseers on the plantation. His strength and love for his mother and his people fueled June Dey’s escape, and it was nice to read about slavers getting their asses handed to them in the ways they deserved.
There were so many scenes in the book that had my adrenaline pumping and usually when that happens, I fly through a book, sometimes in one sitting. But I wanted to savor this story. I wanted the words, the details and the feelings of this amazing book to consume me. To wash over me like the Summer sun, bathing me in light and love. Yes, that was a little sappy, but when you read She Would Be King, you’ll understand.
She Would Be King will be out on September 11, 2018 and I definitely recommend you pre-order a copy. People will be talking about this book in the months to come. Don’t be left out of the conversation.