Kid’s Book Review: The Boy To Beat the Gods

Kid’s Book Review: The Boy To Beat the Gods

About the Book and Author

Step aboard the violent, rocking and lurching train of adventure as one fierce boy battles six merciless gods who leave fear in the heart of even the bravest warrior; the most gripping and touching read you’ll find this year.

Kayode lives a peaceful life in his bustling village, Ikire, with his loving mother Iya and mischievous sister, Temitope, until the day everything changes. The mythical Orishas are worshipped like gods even though they tear through streets ripping and razing everything that stands in their way like a tumultuous tornado if they are not offered a sacrifice worthy of their stature. Each town has a gnarled, imposing Baobab tree, which bears the fruit of the Orishas that gives them their magnificent strength and effervescent magical powers. In futility, Kayode dreams of eating the tantalising yet forbidden fruit of the Orishas.

When the feared Orishas attack his village and Kayode is offered as a sacrifice, his family cant bear it. His sister comes to his rescue but that was the wrong move. In the blink of an eye, the Orishas have pounced upon Temitope and she is disappearing over the gargantuan mountains. On a desperate quest to find his sister, Kayode is ready to battle anyone – from the fiercest warrior to the deadliest Orisha but he can’t complete his quest without his friends.

After the Baobab tree had supposedly been picked bare, a fruit of the Orishas lands miraculously on Kayode’s head and in desperation to find his sister, he devours it. With his stolen half god powers, he has to try and save his sister.

Will he be able to save his sister and defeat the Orishas before it’s too late?

Ashley Thorpe

Ashley Thorpe is a Black British debut author who works as an editor at Storymix, where he helps other writers to create epic stories. He was shortlisted for the 2016/17 Penguin Random House Write-Now programme, and the 2018 Waterstones-University of Sunderland Story Award for short fiction.

His greatest wish is to bring diverse characters to life that he would have loved to have seen, but sorely missed, as a young reader.  He lives in Manchester. The Boy to Beat the Gods is his first book and published by Usborne.

Book Review

a delightful and adventurous read in every way, this book will leave you trembling with a fusion of excitement and fear

This rollercoaster of a book takes you on an enchanting journey over the crystal clear waters of the Sia River where Goddess Sia can turn a raging storm into calm, serene waves lapping against a beach with a click of her fingers. You can rest underneath the comforting shade of the jade pine trees where the sun shines through the gaps in the leaves, dappling the ground with pools of sunlight and climb atop the West African mountain ranges.

I found that each and every character was different – from the cowardly Bami who runs away from any form of disaster to the determined Kayode who will do anything to save his sister. I found myself gravitating towards Princess Tiwa. With her fierce personality and stubbornness, she was impossible to miss as she climbs over mountain tops, fires the Orisha with her longbow, escapes from the clutches of Ikire’s elders and is ready to do anything to save her village. I found Eko, the trickster shape-shifting god, quite amusing and hilarious as he was always pulling tricks on the Orishas and reminded me of Loki, my favourite Norse god.

This book is perfect for fans of adventure with a hint of fantasy and mythology. I loved how West African Mythology was deftly woven into this spectacular book. I love reading Greek and Roman mythology books so this book was a real treat. I haven’t read about African Mythology and I love how vivid and colourful it was from short tempered Sanjoh to the beautiful Godess Sia. Percy Jackson enthusiasts will find this a thrilling ride.

To summarise, it’s a delightful and adventurous read in every way, this book will leave you trembling with a fusion of excitement and fear.

The author agreed to take part in a Q&A with Radhika. Here is their conversation:

1. What inspired you to write “The Boy To Beat the Gods”?

The initial idea was simply a fantastical world of evil gods and one brave kid to stand against them. But as with every story, you bring your own experiences of real life to it – even in fantasy. There are many people in life who act like gods and abuse their power over others. Sometimes all it takes is one person to be the catalyst for many people to come together and stand against them.

It was also really important to me to have an African fantasy setting because I didn’t see enough heroes who looked like me growing up, and never really got to see myself as the main character. I wanted to change that for a new generation, and to show young readers that anyone can be a hero. The continent of Africa has incredible ancient histories that inspire me greatly as a descendant.

There are also many other influences, and not all of them are from books. I love manga and anime, and there’s definitely some shounen DNA in there, with our hero getting his power ups. I’m also a big gamer, and you can probably feel that the most with the Orishas being almost like bosses and sub-bosses!

2. What was your favourite part about writing it?

This has been my favourite story I’ve written so far, and what gave me the most joy was writing Team Kayode – all of those shared moments between Kayode, Eko, Tiwa and Bami. They came to life in ways I didn’t always have planned. I really enjoyed journeying with them, and when I was writing I’d wake up early each morning excited to get back to the adventure.

3. Why did you decide to portray the gods as bad? Was that your initial idea or did you change your mind as you wrote?

I always root for the underdog, and what quest could be more against the odds than kids challenging literal gods? The idea had always been a story taking place in a world of malevolent gods, but I’d originally considered making up my own gods and lore. However, I was much more excited when I realised this could finally be my chance to write about the Orishas – a pantheon of deities I’d been wanting to shine a light on for years. It was more interesting to me, and more of a challenge, to use the existing mythology about the Orishas and to have that inform key parts of the story. I thought it would make for a great twist to have beings who were meant to guide humans through life turn against them instead.

4. I really enjoyed how you have weaved in west African mythology of your heritage in the book but would you like to be a god? If yes, which god would it be and why?

Maybe for a day! I think I’d actually most like to have the powers of an Orisha who doesn’t even feature in this book. He’s called Orunmila and is the Orisha of wisdom and prophecy. It would be cool to predict the future and be all-knowing. Think how many problems you could solve with infinite wisdom.

5. Did you have Baobab trees where you grew up, and if so, what made you put them in your book as the fruit that feeds the Orishas?

I wish! Baobabs are beautiful, iconic trees but are only native to Africa and Australia, while I grew up here in the city of Nottingham. The baobab is also known as ‘the tree of life’, and that actually informed the idea of the transformative power of the fruit. So the tree, as a motif, gives an immediate sense of place (Africa) and of life (creation). I was also raised as a Christian in my childhood, so I think on some level I was probably also taking inspiration from the mythology of Adam and Eve when it came to taking forbidden fruit against the wishes of a higher power!

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Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Radhika
  • Age: 9 years
  • Likes: Acting, guitar, maths, daydreaming and gymnastics
  • Dislikes: Eating, running and loud noises
  • Favourite Book: Pages & Co by Anna James
  • Favourite Film: I Don't Like You by Taylor Swift
  • Favourite Song: Descendants