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Mwikali and the Forbidden Mask by Kenyan author and content creator Shiko Nguru was published in October 2022 by Lantana Publishing. Mwikali and the Forbidden Mask is a children’s fantasy book based on East African mythology.

Nguru used to live in the United States and recently moved back to Kenya with her children. She shares her journey as a mother on at beautifully curated Instagram page @shikonguru. Mwikali and the Forbidden Mask is her first book and the opening story in theThe Intasimi Warriors series. Odwar vs. the Shadow Queen is the second novel in the series and is set for publication in October 2023.

Mwikali and the Forbidden Mask is a middle grade fantasy book, for children between 9 and 13. It tells the story of a girl named Mwikali who comes from a long line Kenyan warriors called Intasimi. When she awakens to her power, she goes head to head with a dark force that threatens the survival of her world. Along for the ride and assisting her are her friends Odwar and Xirsi.

In an interview, Nguru said she was inspired to write a book when she observed a gap in her daughter’s education:

It started because I was trying to homeschool my daughter and wanted to teach her about Kenyan history but couldn’t find any stories that could capture her interest and keep her excited about learning about our history and culture . . . I decided I’m going to fill that gap. I’m going to write something myself and that’s how this all started.

Nguru shines a light on legendary Kenyan warriors such as Gassara Winn, Cierume, Luanda Magere, and Syokimau, making the book as an important step towards introducing children to the captivating world of Kenya African folklore and mythology.

With this book, Nguru joins a growing chorus of African writers expanding the fiction worlds in the children’s books with African indigenous stories. Readers who liked middle grade African fantasy like Efua Traoré’s Children of the Quicksands, Tola Okogwu’s Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, as well as Roseanne A. Brown’s Serwa Boateng’s Guide to Vampire Hunting should read Nguru’s debut. Kids will get lost in the twists and turns and the beautifully imagined fictional world.

Read the synopsis below and see buying options:

12-year-old Mwikali is moving to a new school in Nairobi and just wants her life to be normal. But when she meets Soni, Odwar and Xirsi who reveal that she is descended from an ancient bloodline of legendary Kenyan warriors, all hope of a normal life fades. Now, with an array of malign forces massing, Mwikali must delve deep into the past to discover her ancestry, learn to harness her extraordinary powers, and enter a race against time to defeat a village elder who has turned to dark magic in an effort to gain ultimate power…A fantasy adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the moment of its breathtaking conclusion!

Stay tuned for more information about the second novel in the series, which will be coming to bookstores in October 2023.


Buy Mwikali and the Forbidden MaskLantana Publishing (UK) | Amazon (US) | Bookshop (UK)