Book Reviews

Book review – To dance with shadows by Ify Tony-Monye

I have really been into books by African authors lately so I was really glad to get this book from Masobebooks in exchange for a honest review. To dance with shadows was intriguing to me the moment I saw the cover and I was a bit too eager to read it.

Trigger Warning

Sexual abuse / Child abuse.

About the book.

The book started off with the story set in a village in Nigeria where a young girl, Olachi was abducted, abused and married off to the chief priest as a sacrifice to ‘the gods’ with little to no resistance from the villagers until much later when she’s rescued by a pastor (Very Africa Magic worthy). It then switches to a couple that got in a car accident days after their wedding and the very Nigerian (with a wild imagination) part of me immediately screamed “Village people”.

My thoughts

I struggled with this one because it wasn’t gripping until the last few pages maybe because I was a bit confused by how the stories alternated. It almost felt like I was reading two different stories with no connection whatsoever. So, you can imagine my shock when it turned out to be two different timelines. I found it incredibly hard to connect with the characters and feel their pain and grief.

Overall, it was okay and although, I wish the author did a better job connecting the stories and exploring the idea that children often pay for their parent’s sins and the concept of ‘generational curses’, I really liked how vivid the supernatural scenes were. I liked the plot but I’m not sure I liked the execution.

More random thoughts

The idea that people pay for sins committed by family members they never knew has been something I’ve had discussions about in the past. I’m not sure if believing this is problematic or if I’m indeed too ‘African/Nigerian’. I am quite aware bad things sometimes happen to good people and it’s confusing and unfair.

I grew up in a religious home and I’ve heard prayers against ‘generational curses’ both at home and in churches. I remember thinking to myself ‘Is this just our own way of coping with the terrible things that happen to us?’ I mean, it feels better to assume you’re suffering because your great great grandparent did something rather than accept that life is just unfair and some things are unexplainable.


Themes explored in this book were loss, grief, love, religion/faith & family.


I gave this 3 stars. It was okay. It took a few days after reading this for it to fully marinate. Sadly, I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to but I liked that it sparked a conversation I’ve been interested in having.

“The weird thing about grief is that it is like living two lives. In one life, you smile, go about your business and pretend as if everything is okay, and in the other, your heart silently shouts out in pain.”

This book is available on Amazon, masobebooks and rovingheights (I think).

Thank you for reading. Let me know in the comments if I’m really just a Nigerian/African woman who has watched too many movies or if you believe in the idea that children/people sometimes suffer for sins committed decades ago.

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