Firstly, this is a story about Africa, about my home country South Africa and about the type of people I could very well meet on the streets of our diverse country. It’s close to home, which obviously tends to pull at the heart strings one way or the other.
The first thing that I noticed was the setting of the story and the characters. As a South African, I always flinch at any novel, film or TV series that focuses on the poor, on crime, and on all the negative aspects of our country. We aren’t that bad but when every novel or movie we watch focuses on it all the time, it puts me off. Then we had a scene that involved the police and once again I cringed at it’s authenticity.
The story itself is great. It follows Erin du Toit as she loses her daughter, and the battle for sanity and restoration that follows. How far would a mother go to rescue her child? What trauma and anguish does she experience during the whole ordeal. This story is about bravery and courage, of a mother who goes out of her way to rescue her most prized possession; her child.
Intermingled with the story are fictional transcript police interviews and eyewitness accounts that are too shocking to believe could be real. Witchdoctors. Sangomas. Traditional healers. They are as much a part of our country as the people. As a cultural heritage and belief of many African’s, this novel steers towards the darker side of this cultural aspect. I think many can attest to the reality of muthi killings, but just as many will oppose it. It’s a very fine line.
An interesting group of characters carry the story out, each affected by the kidnapping in various ways. Erin is the mother willing to do almost anything to get her daughter back. Family members, the police force and a couple of witchdoctors come into play to either hinder or help Erin find her daughter. The villain is truly villainous in his actions and I shuddered at his existence – I could see such a person existing and that’s a truly horrific experience.
The world is very much South Africa, sadly it’s the run-down, scary, crime-infested side of South Africa; and the people in the novel reflect this broken country. From the township of Alexandra to the sleazy parts of Johannesburg CBD, this novel reminds me that not all of South Africa is green grass and proper housing. Poverty is ubiquitous, and with poverty a myriad of evils can follow. It’s a sad reality.
In overall this novel is a dark reminder of the evils that exist, hidden behind corporate, civil, and culture. I enjoyed the story as much as I disliked what it reminded me of. Perhaps I am too naive or have yet to realize I’m wearing rose coloured glasses as I live day-to-day in this country. Now I question the reality of life in South Africa.