12 Jan Vaults of Secrets Review by OyindaLovesBooks
3.5 stars rounded up
Many thanks to Parresia Publishers for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review was written voluntarily and all opinions are my own.
Vaults of Secrets is a 10-story short story collection. At its core, the stories in this book live up to its title in the sense that everyone has secrets, some secrets darker and more harmful than others. Everyone is flawed and people do terrible things for different reasons.
There is so much Nigerian-ness in this book. I felt so seen in the pages of this book. I couldn’t wholly relate to all the stories or all the characters but I could relate to some extent because of how Nigerian it was. IYKYK.
There was a story about an “akudaaya”, there was a story that seemed a lot like “akufa” was going on. “Akufa” is a Yoruba phenomenon where one person in a family dies, usually a parent, and then a string of other deaths follow. There was a lot of “the devil made me do it”. I felt really seen, and these were situations I could totally understand.
Cultism, domestic abuse, rape, attempted rape, incestuous rape, consented incest, suicide, paternity fraud, imprisonment due to false accusation, infidelity, HIV, children switched at birth and so many other sensitive topics were covered in these stories.
“There is so much Nigerian-ness in this book. I felt so seen in the pages of this book. I couldn’t wholly relate to all the stories or all the characters but I could relate to some extent because of how Nigerian it was”
This is the author’s second book, but it’s the first of his I’m reading. This collection contains 10 stories and they’re all really unique and written in different styles, using different techniques and PoVs.
Some stories were really really good and packed a punch. Some were really funny, and some contained a lot of implied and obvious superstition. Others were really heartbreaking while I found one or two problematic.
Set in Nigeria or in the diaspora with Nigerian characters in their full Nigerian glory and Nigerianness, there’s a lot to unpack in each short story. My favourites were “till we meet to part no more” and “Lydia’s world”. “this special gift” would have been another favourite but I had some problems with some of the statements in the story.
One big problem I had with some parts of the book is the casual misogynoir of the author. Some statements were just very problematic for me to read as a woman. The story I don’t recommend at all and my least favourite is Story 7, “Otapiapia”, which features a husband and wife who are serial cheats but only the woman ‘gets some punishment’ for cheating. There were also some backhanded statements in Story 2, “This Special Gift”, inferring that the kitchen is a woman’s place and male children are more valuable than female children.
While the aforementioned put me off about these specific stories, the rest of the book was highly enjoyable and I recommend!
Read the original review Here