Book Review: Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe. null
Lionheart Girl
Published: October 14th 2021
Page Count: 320
Born into a family of West African witches, Sheba's terrified of her mother who can turn into a crow. But like mother, like daughter – magic runs through her blood and Sheba discovers powers of her own. Her touch can unravel people's innermost thoughts; their hopes, their fears – their secrets. Sheba too can shape-shift. Through the communion of ancient magic, blood and friendship, she slowly uncovers the murderous truth about her stolen childhood and steels herself for the future. She must protect the hunted from the hunter – her mother.
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Lionheart Girl was a book that caught my eye on NetGalley with its stunning cover, and when I read the synopsis, I was sucked in even more. Read on to see how I got on!

This book was provided for free by NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to review this book.


Content Warning

There are scenes of emotional abuse, domestic abuse, animal abuse, alcoholism, and a character suffers of vision.

First Impressions

Shapeshifters have always interested me, however, most books with shapeshifters are urban fantasy novels predominantly set in the US. There are a few British urban fantasy novels that feature shapeshifters, but I’ve yet to find one that focuses fully on them. Either way, the point is that such as big cats and hyenas are placed in an urban setting and completely removed from the land they originated from. It’s a trope that fetishises the exoticism of the non-Western world. So while I was drawn in by the title of Lionheart Girl, and it’s stunning cover, I stayed for a story that looks like it’s going to be steeped in tradition and folklore.

Book Review: Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe. null

The Review

I wanted to like Lionheart Girl a lot more, however, it’s another book listed as fantasy when it is more accurately magical realism. The fantasy elements are wrapped up within realism, hidden in word play rather than just coming out and saying exactly what is happening. It’s exhausting to read at times because I had to try to work out exactly what was being said.

I had thought that this was a book about shapeshifters, or at the very least, witches that could change shape. It’s not, which was disappointing. I enjoyed the folklore and the world building, I just wish the author had come out and said this was this and that was that. It’s explained that there is an evil, yet the evil is never given a name. It’s just danced around.

Book Review: Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe - My book review for Lionheart girl by Yaba Badoe, a magical realism novel about  West African witches. null
Yaba Badoe
Meet the Author

Yaba Badoe

Yaba Badoe is an award-winning Ghanaian-British documentary film-maker and writer. A graduate of King’s College Cambridge, she was a civil servant in Ghana before becoming a general trainee with the BBC. She has taught in Spain and Jamaica and worked as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. Her short stories have been published in Critical Quarterly, African Love Stories, an anthology edited by Ama Ata Aidoo, and Daughters of Africa. Yaba lives in Balham, London with her husband Colin Izod.

You can find out more about her work over at her website. You can browse her books on Goodreads. Or connect with her on social media; she’s on Twitter and Facebook!

Books by Yaba Badoe

Interested in more books by Yaba Badoe? Check out a selection of titles in my store.

Over to you

Thanks for reading my review for Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe.

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