REVIEW | Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

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Black Leopard, Red Wolf  by Marlon James
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Held captive and interrogated, Tracker weaves an incredible tale of magic as he shares his life story. His interrogator wants Tracker’s account of the search and ultimate death of a kidnapped child. Tracker will share his story, but he’ll tell it in his way and at his pace.

The tale is long and intricate, told out of order and often taking seemingly trivial turns. But nothing is shared without good reason, you just have to be patient. Set in an ancient magical world full of sangomas, shapeshifters and wonder, it also has cruelty, rape, mutilation, muthi killings, slavery, demons and madness. Marlon James writes in beautiful prose and – if you manage to keep reading despite the cruelty – you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking world and an engaging story. But it is Tracker’s tale and he is jaded and bitter, and his worldview taints the telling. Any bright light in this grim tale is killed horrendously and ripped to shreds.


The first in a planned trilogy, this is a well-written novel that reminds me of cruel fairytales before they were sanitised for modern readers. It isn’t an easy read and one I’m not keen to repeat, but it stands well on its own. By the end all your questions will have been answered, you’ll just wish you were still ignorant

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