MATILDA X TRISTAN STRONG. Sick of being shunned as an evil ogbanje for her freakish memory, Adia Kelbara can’t wait to start her apprenticeship at the Academy of Shamans. When an actual ogbanje—a soul-possessing demon—threatens the empire, she must ally with snarky gods and new friends to fight it, even as her brilliant mind is the ogbanje’s next target.
If an atlas bothered to mention the Swamplands, it was sure to include a footnote stating that “the affairs of this village are not worth discussing.” But the affairs of this day were of great importance to twelve-year-old Adia Kelbara.
Adia stood outside her house, clutching a letter so tightly her nails dug into her palm. A letter that could change her life and get her out of the swamp. So long as her aunt and uncle didn’t kill her first.
You have to go in at some point, she told herself.
Usually, she went straight to the forest after she left the village schoolhouse. The mosquitoes and tsetse flies were relentless in the Swamplands and even worse in the forest, but it was the only place she could read in peace. Today, however, she needed to tell her aunt and uncle about the letter. Slipping it into her pocket, Adia opened the front door.
Aunt Ife stood in the living room dusting a table and humming a hymn. Aunt Ife was always humming a hymn.
Her aunt’s only reply was a distracted nod.
Adia took a deep breath. She might as well get it over with.
“So…I received my placement letter today for my year of practicality.”
Her aunt spared her a glance.
“Year of practicality? Don’t be silly. That’s for twelve-year-olds. You’re nine.”
“I’ve been twelve for three months.”
Aunt Ife blinked. “If you say so.”