David Mogo, Godhunter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this novel. Definitely one of a kind with rich world-building and well-rounded characters. An amazing author to look out for! Full review to come.

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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I received a free arc of this book from the publisher via Net-Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t know where to even start when it comes to talking about this one. It blew my mind to the point that even now, several days after I finished, I’m still reeling.

When I dissect what I read, it’s a little difficult to figure out why it had so much impact; superficially, this is a story I’ve read many times, a coming-of-age tale wherein a young man must claim his full, supernatural potential in order to save the people and place he loves. I mean, that’s an ancient story; we’ve been telling variations of it for eons, right?

But as with all stories, it’s how you tell it that matters. It’s the script and the costumes and the set dressing, the stage make-up and the actors you cast for the roles, that combine to make a story unique regardless of how many times it’s core has been told before. And I really feel like Okungbowa has done something special here.

I remember the first time I read a Russian fantasy novel (in translation!) and realised that it’s more than setting that changes how a story feels; just as I can’t (generally) stand books published in the 90s or earlier because the writing style of the time just doesn’t work for me, different parts of the world seem to have their own styles, too – it’s not limited to time periods. Australian fantasy is just different to (North) American fantasy, as is Russian, as is German, as is Chinese. I don’t have the linguistic or literary knowledge to put into words exactly how they’re all different – and it’s not like they’re a monolith or anything. But it’s clear to me that different cultures flavour their stories differently – which makes perfect sense when you think about it, doesn’t it?

David Mogo, Godhunter is like that; it doesn’t feel like an American or (Western, I have no experience with Eastern) European fantasy novel. Maybe it wouldn’t feel quite so mind-blowing to someone more familiar with Nigerian literature (or, honestly, Nigeria in general), but for me, raised on a very Western diet stretching from Lord of the Rings onwards, it felt brand-new and fresh and raw and dizzying, all at once. I can’t say for sure, having never been there, but what I want to say is that it’s more than the fact that DM,G is set in Nigeria; I think it might intrinsically be a Nigerian story, coming from a literary tradition I’m not familiar with, influenced by a culture I don’t know.

I just don’t think a white British author could have pulled this off, is what I’m saying here.

And to be honest, I suspect that that might be at the root of many of the negative reviews I’ve seen for this book; DM,G is so different stylistically from what most of us (white, Western) readers are familiar with that I can see why some people might reject it, without ever quite being able to put their finger on what it is that actually bothers them about what they’re reading. I will freely admit I struggled to adapt for the first few chapters, and I absolutely had trouble learning everyone’s names and keeping them all straight – but that was solely due to my own unfamiliarity with Nigerian names; I have the same problem with Finnish names, and I’ve been living in Finland for years now. If you’ve never read a Nigerian novel before – if you’ve never strayed far from your comfort zone of straight, white, mostly-cis-male writers – then yeah, you’re going to have to put some extra work in in order to get the most out of this book. But it’s damn worth it.

And besides, Okungbowa is very considerate of his white readers; I’ve seen reviews complaining about info-dumping, but a) I found all the info I needed woven very deftly into the narrative, and b) I needed that info! When I pick up a book by a white American man, I’m engaging with a literary tradition I’m familiar with; just like fanfiction writers don’t need to introduce the characters – because the readers are fans who already know those characters – no one needs to break down a generic Medieval-esque-European setting for me. No matter how original the story, I recognise and understand something about its basic nature. I didn’t have that to fall back on with DM,G – which made everything new and interesting in a way I don’t get to experience often, but yes, also meant Okungbowa needed to introduce me to…well, a lot. And you know what? He did it incredibly well. I never felt overwhelmed, bored by information I didn’t care about, or confused about what was going on. One example stands out very clearly in my memory; during a battle scene, David is faced with a kind of monster he knows but that this particular white reader did not – a creature from Nigerian mythology. And I was awed at how quickly and perfectly Okungbowa conveyed the information I needed during a fight scene, without bogging down the action at all. Worldbuilding via fight scene? That’s just ridiculously impressive.

Another critique I’ve seen is that the dialogue shifts between what I wince to call ‘proper’ English and what is probably Naijá, or Nigerian Pidgin (although it’s never named in the book), and look – even I know that people switch back and forth between British English and Naijá depending on the situation and setting, and probably mood and personal preference too. That David speaks British English with some characters some of the time, and Naijá at other times – particularly with his adopted father, who speaks Naijá exclusively – is completely normal. It would be weird if he didn’t. Was it sometimes hard to understand what was being said? Sure, but no more so than when LotR delves into Elvish. When a fantasy book has instances of a fantasy language, 99 times out 100 context makes the meaning clear, and the same is true with this book (which, let me reiterate, is not using a fantasy language, it’s a real language real people speak and which the characters are obviously going to be familiar with). And as someone who tears her hair out every time Hollywood shows us Germans speaking English with each other when there are no native English speakers present, I appreciated getting to see these characters speak like, you know, real people. It anchored the fantastical elements really well.

Look, I will defend this book against all comers, okay? Okungbowa not only came up with an amazing premise, he wrote a story that lived up to it – how often does that happen? The magic! The fight scenes! And oh my gods (literally), the mythos! The more that was revealed about the Falling – when the gods showed up on Earth – and what had caused it and also, you know, the nature of gods and the various pantheons and everything – the more I learned about that, the more I wanted to gush about this book to literally everyone. I am so in love with so many things I can’t talk about here because spoilers, which is so frustrating! I don’t know how to convince you to go read this when I can’t tell you why.

But basically, if you’re not afraid of moving away from traditional (blegh) fantasy, if you’re into cinematic magic and mythology and seriously weird found-families, if you want grit along with your action, if you want something new and wonderful, then this is definitely a book for you.

Seriously, give it a go. I can’t imagine regretting it.
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Sadly, I had to DNF this one. The cover and blurb are great but I just couldn't get into the story or writing.
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David Mogo, Godhunter is billed on the back cover as “A Nigerian Harry Dresden”. This only goes a little way towards what we’ve got here though – whilst there are definite echoes of the Chicago wizard private eye, David Mogo is very much his own man, and we definitely ain’t in Chicago…

What we have here is Nigerian Godpunk – a genre that I must confess I didn’t know existed until reading this book, but one that I hope to see more of in the future. At one level it’s classic urban fantasy, but with a distinctly unique edge.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a fun read, set in a Lagos filled with fallen gods and godlings and wizards, peppered with interesting characters. The worldbuilding is great and the story whistles along at a great pace. I do love a good sense of place, and there’s plenty of that on show here. Okungbowa’s writing is punchy and sharp, with a rich vein of description which gives a great sense of place. There’s a fair bit of infodumping at points along the way, but it just adds to the atmosphere and the mythos.

One other thing I particularly enjoyed was Okungbowa’s use of language – David Mogo and Papa Udi’s conversations dialogue has a real, authentic feel to it, and though at times the dialect can be tricky to follow it’s all the stronger for it.

Finally, that cover! Oof. Huge kudos to Yoshi Yoshitani. Stunning.
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So. Very. Disappointing. Like, seriously, I expected better.
David Mogo, a half God who is also extremely complaining and way too proud person, decides to take up a job that looks impossible.
Now, we all know how the story of demigods goes. Sprinkle a lot of self-righteous speech, with a dash of self-doubt. And then trust the author to kill the rest of the plot. This book is repetitive, monotonous and has a pace slower than a snail.
What started as an extremely promising pot, it soon turned out to be difficult to follow. The whole dramatic approach to all things simple and the Nigerian dialect only made the pace slower, until I wanted to hit my head on a wall.
Things went wrong too soon in this book. or maybe, it just wasn't for me.
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I’ve been anticipating reading David Mogo Godhunter since January and I’m excited to say that this book met all my expectations. It’s a gritty, epic, and enthrallingly unique blend of dystopia and urban fantasy.

I loved the concept of the gods falling from the sky as an apocalyptic event and the contrasts drawn between Lagos pre- and post Falling. This is dystopia in all its gritty and filth-covered glory and it makes all other dystopian scenarios seem gentle and kind by comparison. This is, in part, due to how near the verge of dystopia Okungbowa’s pre-Falling Lagos already was, with its inconsistent electricity supply and bad service delivery in general. Speaking as a South African, I found it all far more intimately relatable than any of the other novels I’ve read recently in the dystopian/urban fantasy genre were.

David is rough and tough but kind-hearted and I loved the relationship he has with his foster grandfather, the renowned wizard, Papa Udi. I didn’t feel much for his internal conflict over being a demi-god abandoned by his mother although Okungbowa relates his emotional states well. I enjoyed the mishmash of found family and unlikely allies that arise through the course of this novel but probably would’ve liked it more if there were more personal interactions between the characters.

This novel is divided into three parts, Godhunter, Firebringer, and Warmonger, and although the conflict ramps up throughout the novel, it reads more like a trilogy of novellas since the first two sections have their own conflict and resolution within the overarching plot. Okungbowa’s world-building is vivid and imbues this novel with an atmosphere of overall desolation that I could almost smell. The godlings are horrifying, their origins even more so, and Okungbowa’s depiction of the fallen Orisha deities is astounding in that it captures their very human natures as well as their staggering otherness. The battles involving the higher deities are jaw-dropping in scale and might, but nonetheless realistic enough to be believable.

The pidgin English was a little hard to follow at times but one gets the jist of these conversations through the narrative. Certain aspects were a little jarring, such as a crocodile screaming, but since it was a magical crocodile, I’m willing to let it slide.
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When I read this description, I immediately thought it would be something I would love. It was right up my alley, Gods taking over the world and a demigod who needs to face them, what more could I ask for?

Sadly, this didn't live up to my expectations. While the premise was good, the telling of the story essentially info dumps and couldn't hold my interest. I felt almost as if this was a book telling me how to cast instead of entertaining me with people who had these abilities. I ended up not finishing just because I couldn't bring myself to read it anymore. I gave it two stars because I think this could be a great book had a lot of the excess information been cut.
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An interesting book and still not sure really what to think.  It's definitely one of those  books that you will have to read to see what it feels like.
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One of the best I've read this year. A problematic fave granted, but a fave nonetheless. Provided a link to my full-length review with all my thoughts and the issues I had with the book. It was very enjoyable though. A definite four stars for me. Loved the fact that it was set in Africa, we need more representation in literature other than our own.
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Thank you Netgalley, author and publisher for the ARC as an ebook copy.

David Mogo, Godhunter was an interesting story by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. The book is told in first person POV that is action packed portrayal of an apocalyptic fall of gods. The chapters are short and always leaves the reader in a cliff hanger to keep the page turning. If you are a fan of the supernatural and urban fantasy with amazing characters, this book is for you. I loved also the inclusion of the language involved (such as Pidgin and Yoruba) which adds to the setting of Lagos, Nigeria. What an enjoyable read and a great ride! Thank you!
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Suyi Davies Okungbowa has rooted his excellent urban fantasy in his culture, with Yoruba and Pidgin English speaking characters throughout, and featuring deities from across the African pantheons. It's rich and vivid, and its all bound together by the irresistible lead voice of David Mogo himself - uncertain, angry, and increasingly afraid of both the power of the gods he opposes and that of himself.
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This is my first foray into afropunk (something I sorely need to remedy) so at first I really enjoyed what seemed to be a simple tale of a demigod in near future post god-apocalypse Lagos. He suppresses most of his powers to fit in with humans, and uses the rest to hunt gods and godlings. But a bigger job from a local ruler to capture two twin gods makes David realize that he might be helping his enemies, and it all escalates from there.

I thought David's confusion and feeling of not belonging on either side, with comparisons drawn to refugees and Fati, was an interesting theme. I enjoyed all the new Nigerian culture and mythos I was being exposed to, and the magical/godpunk aspects of the story. Found family is an added bonus as far as tropes go too. But then the plot kind of stumbled and rushed into a really hasty ending, and David's character arc is kind of lost in the mess. I would have liked to see him either embrace his new avatar (avoiding spoilers) or fight to find his own path. As it unraveled in the book, kind of meh. The the last quarter of the plot seemed out of beat as well.
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I was fascinated by the concept but I think  the delivery was not up to my expectations.
I found it confusing and the plot seems to have some issues.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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The world in which this fantasy was set is vibrant and immersive, and I thought David's character was bold and determined, brave but also stupid at times because he wouldn't realise the danger he was in. I also loved the fact that there were people and creatures from different mythologies woven into the story, and felt like this little decision gave the novel some depth and added some extra intrigue and excitement.
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Set in Lagos, Nigeria, David Mogo, earns his living as a god hunter. He uses his skills as a demigod to track the deities who have fallen from heaven.
On capturing a higher god, on behalf of a wizard, David begins to question his role as he realises the Wizard has plans to seize Lagos all for himself. 

I was drawn to this book by the fantasy element and the premise of fallen gods but also because I was interested to find out about the mythology of another culture. David Mogo, God Hunter draws from Nigerian Orisha mythology and dominates the book. 

So far, so good. 

Firstly we trace the journey of David as a Godhunter and finds himself in real trouble and things turn sour. The second part finds him addressing his legacy and honing his gifts and abilities. The final act sees him become a leader and brings people together to fight a war against a tyrant hell bent on turning earth into a heavenly realm. 

Unfortunately the novel fails to live up to its premise. This is a long, slow book. It’s set in three parts, all interlinked with a plot and structure that is pretty formulaic. 

David Mogo should have been massively interesting but the first person narrative and lots of internal dialogue bogged it down and left nothing to be imagined and became laborious. Because of this there is no real connection to the protagonist and no room for the supporting characters to grow.  Of these, Papa Udi, David’s mentor and wise Jedi like character is probably the most interesting. 

What was most infuriating was the lack of ‘god busting’. The action that there was  seemed like an afterthought and not convincing. 

The world building was good, I enjoyed the  modern day Nigeria setting after ‘the falling’ and also navigating the use of the Nigerian dialect which gave it real authenticity. Reading something from a different cultural perspective was something I was keen to do this year. It’s just a shame that this one didn’t work out after a really interesting premise.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC, in return for an honest review.
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I requested this book on a day I was looking for something different to what I normally read, and boy did this book come through for me.

The themes in the book cover everything from African culture to Gods to urban fantasy. My favourite part was the imbuement of David's humour. It made the book much more entertaining to read and had me chuckling out loud on a few occasions.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but at times it did feel very long, I think there are often occasions where books fall down when they have a bit too much, unnessacery description that the reader gets lost in it, and I certainly did. Would recommend to friends looking for something different but not a book I will be re-reading again and again.
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Ah, this book. It was an absolute ride, filled with action, gods and an unforgettable main character. This book was described as “Nigerian God-punk” and after having read it, I can absolutely say that that’s an amazing description. 

I loved David’s voice in this book. It was somewhere between weary PI and absolute badass, and it was just so easy to fall into his words. And his relationship with Papa Udi is absolutely fantastic. Their relationship was so nuanced and caring in such a wonderful way. Sadly some of the other characters fell a little flat for me, but that was fine since I enjoyed David so much.

The thing that I really loved about this book, was how incredibly fast-paced it was. Sometimes it felt a little like I couldn’t catch my breath (but like in the best way!), but I wouldn’t be able to put it down, cause I had to know what was going to happen. 

All in all, I found this to be a very action packed book, and would recommend it to people who are looking for that like Urban fantasy, but would like it in a new setting, and overall, anyone who loves interactions between people and Gods.
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I found this difficult to rate, on one hand the mythology was something I've not read before so it was really interesting to read but on the other because I knew nothing I found it hard to understand who all the gods were and their myths. The book could be very info dumpy but it also didn't explain somethings quite as much as I needed to understand what was going on. There were words and dialects used by the characters that I just didn't know what they meant, hopefully the finished book has a glossary. I think the best thing about it was the main character, I found his narration entertaining and I connected with him quickly. His struggle to understand who he was and his powers was compelling and I also enjoyed his interactions with his found family throughout the story.
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At times the narrative felt a little disjointed and the separate parts almost felt like they could have been separate short stories, but on the whole I liked it. It was great to see this kind of story set in Nigeria, drawing from the local folktales and mythology, and I thought the central character was interesting and different.
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Review copy provided by publisher.
A slightly future/altered Lagos, Nigeria, is the setting and the heart of David Mogo, Godhunter. It is squarely in the middle of the contemporary urban fantasy tradition--the one with Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher, not the one that's a sub-genre of romance. And that combination of factors changes the beats and the shape of the story completely.
David Mogo is half-orisha. He is learning who he is and who he wants to be. This is a very coming of age sort of book. But coming of age as the son of a god in a ravaged natural and magical landscape is anything but a standard tale. David's care for his family, his chosen companions, his surroundings, infuse this book with an intensity that makes it a page-turner every bit as much as its dramatic action scenes do.
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