A review by seawarrior
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

challenging dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Freshwater is a dizzying, original tale of a young woman who comes of age with gods trapped within her mind and her flesh. Emezi's writing is cutting and clear, conveying the messages of Ada's divine residents with precise expression and violent, glittering imagery. While the chronology of the book was disorienting at times, I never felt lost. The way events were revealed made sense in context, and furthered our understanding of the characters' thought processes. I am not familiar with Igbo onotology, or metaphysical theories in general, yet my lack of knowledge did not make the story hard to follow, thanks to Emezi's direct style and explicit metaphors. However, I would not recommend this book to people triggered by or vulnerable to depictions of sexual violence and self harm. A key plot development in the book is the arrival of a vengeful and hedonistic god summoned to protect Ada from the realization she has been raped. Even before this, Ada was self harming to provide her gods with the blood they craved, yet this event accelerates the self destructive behavior her gods encourage. Though deeply unsettling, I did enjoy reading this novel. I've never encountered another story like it, and look forward to reading the unique and divergent works Emezi felt inspired by. 

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