Friday, November 11, 2022

Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejide Review

 Today Teresa recommends CREATURES OF PASSAGE. Let us know if you've read it!

Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejide 

"Nephthys Kinwell is a taxi driver of sorts in Washington, DC, ferrying ill-fated passengers in a haunted car: a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere with a ghost in the trunk. Endless rides and alcohol help her manage her grief over the death of her twin brother, Osiris, who was murdered and dumped in the Anacostia River.

Unknown to Nephthys when the novel opens in 1977, her estranged great-nephew, ten-year-old Dash, is finding himself drawn to the banks of that very same river. It is there that Dash--reeling from having witnessed an act of molestation at his school, but still questioning what and who he saw--has charmed conversations with a mysterious figure he calls the "River Man," who somehow appears each time he goes there.

When Dash arrives unexpectedly at Nephthys's door one day bearing a cryptic note about his unusual conversations with the River Man, Nephthys must face both the family she abandoned and what frightens her most when she looks in the mirror.

Creatures of Passage beautifully threads together the stories of Nephthys, Dash, and others both living and dead. Morowa Yejidé's deeply captivating novel shows us an unseen Washington filled with otherworldly landscapes, flawed super-humans, and reluctant ghosts, and brings together a community intent on saving one young boy in order to reclaim themselves.

 Goodreads  |  Bookshop 

Teresa's Review

I read Creatures of Passage for the Horror Spotlight readalong in October 2022. It had been on my list for awhile, ever since watching an author panel (virtual) where Zin E. Rocklyn recommended it, stating that it was some of the best prose they had read. What was the panel?  No idea. When was it?  Don’t remember that, either. I could easily be misremembering who recommended it, but I don’t think so. I am pretty sure I was fresh off of reading Flowers for the Sea and it was a panel for that, with other creators, but don’t quote me on any of this. Time still has no meaning. ANYWAY.

I picked up Creatures of Passage several months ago, when it came into paperback, based on this recommendation that I may or may not be remembering correctly. I was excited to be able to read it as part of the readalong. Because, like so many other books that accumulate on my shelves, sometimes I need the motivation to start it. Not that I don’t want to read it, but there is always something else that I want to read, or something else that “has” to be read for book clubs, etc.

I am babbling mostly because I am still trying to put my feelings for this book into words. I am fond of talking about narratives that make me want to snuggle into the prose, to live in these words. This is one of those books. The subject matter is tough in some places, no doubt, but the way it is written is lush and tender and glorious and gorgeous.  The best I can come up as analysis is that it blends Egyptian myths with a Supernatural, semi-alternate reality in 1977 Washington DC to force us to discover how we, as humans, gloss over reality to cope. There is a section on how children of the Ghetto learn how to take in trauma in bits and pieces to process it in the only way they know how to process things because they do not have the tools to fully process the events at one time.  I would quote it here, but I think it needs to be experienced with the rest of the book.  But, this is how the whole narrative is presented; in bits and pieces that are easier to digest instead of trauma as a whole. We are allowed to come to it from the side, not forced to see it straight on. On the surface, it seems like too much of the trauma is being glossed over, but I think it actually forces us to recognize how we are prone to doing it in our own lives. But also, we are shown how lives intersect, sometimes without our knowledge. How one decision on our part, or someone else’s, has a ripple effect within our communities. Be it communities of our own making or communities forced through proximity and history. And there is hope here in these pages.

I already feel like I have said too much; I never really seem to know what are spoilers and what aren’t.  This book will most likely challenge you, for its content, but also for its prose and structure.  It challenged me. But it is a challenge I would accept again because it is lyrical and beautiful and unlike anything I have read in awhile.    

Thank you for joining us today! Please share your thoughts in the comments about Creatures of Passage and/or any recent reads you've been enjoying.

We are currently accepting horror fiction and horror adjacent fiction written by diverse authors in print and epub format ONLY. If this is you, please visit our review submission page here.

Teresa is a contributing reviewer and runs our Shelf Edition feature each month. You can find Teresa on Goodreads, on Twitter as @teresa_ardrey, when she's not hiding in a corn maze.

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