NEW AFRICAN HORROR NOVEL WILL LEAVE YOU SLEEPLESS
‘QUEEN OF AFRICAN HORROR’ NUZO ONOH RETURNS WITH A TERRIFYING TALE OF CHILD SACRIFICE AND VENGEFUL SPIRITS, WITCHCRAFT AND DEMONIC POSSESSION SET AMIDST THE BACKDROP OF THE NIGERIAN-BIAFRAN CIVIL WAR
IN THE SLEEPLESS, THE CELEBRATED BRITISH-NIGERIAN AUTHOR AND AFRICAN HORROR PIONEER TACKLES REAL-LIFE TABOOS EVERY BIT AS TERRIFYING AS THE VENGEFUL DEAD
Horror author Nuzo Onoh not only survived the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War but also an exorcism ritual which would later kill a teenage friend.
Now the British-Nigerian author, noted for launching a new genre of ‘African horror’ into the literary world, calls upon her traumatic experiences in a terrifying new novel that will enthral horror fans while also highlighting shocking child abuse taboos that still haunt some of today’s African communities.
Set against the backdrop of the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War of the late 1960s, The Sleepless is a spine-chilling tale of despicable acts perpetrated on innocent children, and of wronged and restless spirits hungry for revenge.
In an African village, a disabled boy is offered as a sacrifice by his own father who desperately wants a “healthy son”.
The victim’s six-year-old sister, Obele, discovers the horrific truth through a mysterious ‘Mother Voice’ who has been her guardian angel since birth. She also learns that her brother is not the only child in the village to have met their death this way.
Soon, Obele is accused of witchcraft and demonic possession in a bid to silence her, but as war clouds gather overhead, the villagers face a far deadlier foe, and one of their own making: the ghosts of murdered children are returning from the grave to seek revenge against their killers.
As with Onoh’s previous books — 2014’s genre-making short story collection, The Reluctant Dead, and last year’s Unhallowed Graves — The Sleepless is steeped in West African folklore, rich with the rituals and traditions of African Igbo culture.
Her most unnerving work to date, it also addresses real-life atrocities that are every bit as terrifying as the vengeful ghouls that stalk the pages.
Dedicated to the one million Biafran children who lost their lives during the civil war, including some the author knew personally, The Sleepless dares to confront contemporary issues of child abuse within some African communities including child sacrifice, children witches, exorcism, domestic violence, child slavery and child sexual abuse. Onoh also makes a heart-felt dedication to several figures, including author Frederick Forsyth, who helped raise awareness in the West of the atrocities taking place in Biafra.
The author was herself a victim of an exorcism at age 13, when she was accused by a church pastor of harbouring a water spirit.
A teenage boy she was friends with, meanwhile, died aged just 17 after undergoing a brutal exorcism ritual where he was repeatedly whipped to “beat the demon out”.
These real-life horrors are skilfully interwoven with the supernatural by Onoh, dubbed the “queen of African horror”, in an unforgettable novel unlike any other.
Speaking about her experiences, Onoh said: “I feel twice blessed in that I not only survived the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War, despite some several very close calls, but also a truly horrific practice that has no place in the modern world.
“My mum’s a devout Roman Catholic and an educated woman, but also the product of a society still fearful of the supernatural.
“Like most teens, I was going through a rebellious streak, but this was viewed by the church pastor as a clear sign that I was possessed by a river goddess and needed to be exorcised and my mother went along with his recommendation of a river exorcism.
“The ritual took place at midnight by a river and was one of the most terrifying things I have experienced in my life, but at least I survived. One of my friends wasn’t so lucky, being whipped to death in a misguided effort to expel the ‘demon’ that had taken control of him. He was just 17.
“Unfortunately these practices, as well as other forms of child abuse such as child sacrifice, are still taking place today in certain African communities. I wrote The Sleepless not only to give readers an entertaining fright, but also to give all these young victims a voice.”
The Sleepless by Nuzo Onoh (Canaan-Star Publishing) is released on June 28, priced £7.99 in paperback and £2.99 in Kindle edition. Visit www.nuzoonoh.com