For my second review as part of Self-Published Author Appreciation Week, I am reviewing Will of the Mischief Maker by Antoine Bandele. Previously, I’ve read By Sea & Sky by Bandele and I had been meaning to pick up more of his work, and when I came across Will of the Mischief Maker it was love at first sight (yes, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover… but look at that cover!!) and it seemed the perfect way to dive back into his work.
What happens when a deity needs a human body?
They go to the source, of course.
Eshu the Trickster needs a mortal form for his mischievous plans, but the only other Orisha who can help him swore off the practice ages ago.
It will take careful scheming to convince the Original Architect to come out of retirement. Any misstep and Eshu will be thrown from the Sky Realm.
What’s worse, Eshu hasn’t visited the heavens for several centuries. Would his former comrade even be the same? How can Eshu persuade someone he barely knows anymore?
Find out in this prequel short story to The Gatekeeper’s Staff, a young adult fantasy based on the West African mythology of the Orishas.
I have a weakness for trickster Gods. I like the unpredictability and mischief, and the fact that there is usually a core thread of something more serious running through them, even if it is hard to see at times. Eshu our main character is a perfect example of that, and even though this is a short read, we are given glimpses of both his mischievous side – as well as teasing hints that there is more going on (I really want to know why he wants to go down among the mortals) – and his more sincere nature in his interactions with his old friend.
This is a short story, and easy to devour and yet Bandele achieves a lot in a small number of words. It is a wonderfully atmospheric read, and it felt very much as though you could be sat around a campfire being told this tale and the author captured that feeling of mythology and the hint of whimsy, but something more perfectly. There’s enough worldbuilding to ground you in the world of the tale and to set your imagination soaring, without getting bogged down in the details and I just loved the imagery of Obatala’s study.
We also get such a strong sense of character within a short space of time, and while Eshu is certainly our main gateway to the story – and has a tone of personality, in the way that makes you want to get to know him rather than being irritating – I also liked what we got to see of Obatala, although he was certainly harder to get a grasp of. There was a sense of history – both between them and as individuals, and it was great to see their interactions, and how Eshu’s trickster nature played into that – and there was one moment where I truly thought Eshu had gone too far and thought I was about to come to hate my favourite of the two only to be caught completely by surprise in a twist that was absolutely perfect.
This was a fun read, and I’m looking forward to checking out more of this series soon. I’ve also seen lots of praise for the audiobook version of this one, and I’m keen to give that a go because as I said this is very much a tale that lends itself to oral storytelling. All in all, a great short read and a tantalising teaser for the main series.