EDEMEDE A MURU AKO:
LET THE READER BEWARE
Greetings from the Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility. We are a busy organization, yet here we are again, on orders from the Head Librarian to alert you, to warn you, to help you be aware. Beware. Shine your eye. If you fear juju. If you are uncomfortable around powers that zip, buzz, creep, swell on this planet and beyond. If you don’t want to know. If you don’t want to listen. If you are afraid to go. If you aren’t ready. If. If. If. you are reading this. Good. This book is full of juju.
Juju is what we West Africans like to loosely call specific magic, manipulatable mysticism, or alluring allures. It is wild, alive, and enigmatic, and it is interested in you. Juju always defies definition. It certainly includes all uncomprehended tricksy forces wrung from the deepest reservoirs of nature and spirit.There is control, but never absolute control. Do not take juju lightly—unless you are looking for unexpected death.
Juju cartwheels between these pages like dust in a sandstorm, like a spider in the wind. We don’t care if you are afraid. We don’t care if someone told you not to read books like this. We don’t care if you think this book will bring your good luck. We don’t care if you are an outsider. We just care that you read this warning and are thus warned. This way, you have no one to blame but yourself if you enjoy this story.
There are places where you belong, where blood gives you access. However, they aren’t always the best places to go. This book is about Sunny going where she belonged but maybe should have thought twice about going. Its about inherited debt, responsibility, and stepping up…when maybe you shouldn’t. Common sense is a result of the truest education. Education is like wine. It takes time. Its a process. the young sometimes have to go through it..and sometimes they die trying.
The Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility
Sunny and Sugar Cream were walking again. Sugar Cream liked to walk. Today they were walking through the Dark Market, the shadiest part of Leopard Knocks where the shadiest dealings were known to be done. You could buy chittim with Lamb money here, though when Leopard currency was procured in this was, it acquired a telltale tarnish that lessened its value.
You could buy super-cheap marijuana here, though more potent, specialized marijuana could be bought at much higher prices in the general area. You could buy all kinds of dark, illegal juju powders, from “Liquid Jinn” to “Erasable Death Oils” to captive and trainable bush souls.
Sugar Cream and Sunny passed a woman selling night roses. One of the vicious thorny plants tried to swipe at Sunny, knocking her glasses off as she passed a bit too close. “Woah!” she said, leaping out of its reach. “Geez!” She reached down and grabbed her glasses from the ground and inspected them for scratches. When she saw none, she put them back on, glaring at the plant.
“Its up to you to have your own back here, Sunny,” Sugar Cream said, shaking her head. “Come on, student, don’t embarrass me, sha.”
“You’re blaming me when it swiped at me,” Sunny protested as they moved on.
“Blame is not of interest to me here. Pay attention. When you bleed, you’ll feel the pain; the plant will feel nothing but satisfaction because it is unapologetically evil.” She sighed. “Anyway, so people come to the Dark Market to bargain and deal,” she said as they passed a man selling large black vultures with muscular wings. They stood on a thick branch and the one at the end watched Sunny pass as if it wanted her to die so it could eat her.
“When you need someone to do something for you that is not acceptable among most people, you come here,” Sugar Cream continued. “Some of those requests aren’t necessarily bad, evil, or illegal. I know a scholar who comes here because there was a man who sold an oil that let her hair smelling like flowers for months, even after she washed it. Couldn’t find this oil anywhere else. I have my theories about where that oil came from. There’s a reason it was so hard to find.” She chuckled. “I like to walk through here once in a while to remind myself that all our faces are useful.”
“Even that guy there, selling ‘Six Million Ways to Die’?” Sunny asked.
The man had dreadlocks hanging to his ankles that were so neat and perfect that they looked like cables. His large booth was packed with colorful bottles of various shapes and sizes; many had something undulating inside. No one was stopping to look at his wares…at the moment.
“In the grand scheme of things, yes,” Sugar Cream said. “So, Sunny, you can glide fairly well now. It’s useful, eh?”
“I wouldn’t be able to sneak out of the house any other way.” Sunny laughed. “I hear its really hard juju to work.” Gliding was one of her natural abilities, which meant unlike most, she didn’t need juju powder to do it. To glide was to drop her spirit into the wilderness, shifting her physical body invisible. She’d make an agreement with both the wildness (the spirit world) and the mundane (the physical world) and then zip through both as a swift-moving breeze.
“To glide as a natural is to die a little…and come back. And yes, it’s extremely sophisticated juju to work for those who cant naturally do it. Since you’ve gotten so good at it, you can access something else. You already have…once.”
Sunny stopped walking. Around them, people conducted shady business, selling shady things, looking shadily at one another. The sunshine didn’t even reach here because there was a tattered tarp shading the entire place. However, Sunny was focused on her mentor with every shred of her being. She’d been waiting over a year for this lesson. Ever since she’d done it once and been sent to the Obi Library basement because of it.
Read the full excerpt and pre-order the book: Penguin Random House