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THE WITCH DOCTOR’S WIFE By Tamar Myers June 30, 2011

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.
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Because the second book in this series has just come out, the Lycan Librarian was finally pushed into picking up the first. THE WITCH DOCTOR’S WIFE is a book filled with fascinating African facts, entertaining characters that are brought vividly to life, and a plot that keeps the reader enthralled. The novel takes place in 1958 in The Belgian Congo (now just the Congo,) the place and time where the author grew up in her parents’ mission school. Myers’ family consisted of the first white people to live peacefully among a tribe of headhunters who used human skulls for drinking cups. Myers’ novel is a fast read, and although it is catalogued a mystery, the book, in this reader’s opinion, is dominated by the sharpness of the characters rather than the plot — a complement to the author. Many writers can outline the events to take place in a book, but to create characters who are fresh, believable and intense is a much tougher task to accomplish. Plotwise, I will admit, that at the end of the book, the events exploded so this reader could not put it down until every last word had been devoured.

Their Death is the village witch doctor, and his first wife, Cripple, and a prudish American missionary named Amanda who wishes to force Christian behavior on everyone she meets, are among the principal characters. The contrast between Cripple and Amanda’s personalities are as stark as the difference in their skin colors and upbringings. The point of view fluctuates between characters, so while we learn how disgusted Amanda is by certain behaviors of the locals, we also see how repulsed Cripple is by Amanda’s white skin and blue eyes. The woman even calls her Mamu Ugly Eyes — to her face. The plot goes well beyond these characters, to officials and outsiders, family units and diamonds, and revenge and greed, but the storyline of the relationship between these two women was this reader’s favorite part of the book.

Every chapter of this selection begins with a wildly interesting tidbit about the people, animals, and culture of the area, and this reader has no complaints or criticisms to offer. This novel is absolutely wonderful. And the Lycan Librarian is actually happy it took her so long to finally read this book, because she can now dive directly into THE HEADHUNTER’S DAUGHTER, Tamar Myers’ second and latest book in this African series. Myers also wrote a Pennsylvania-Dutch mystery series of fifteen books called DEN OF ANTIQUITY, which this reader will also eagerly seek out on her next trip to the county library.

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