By Uwem-obong Ankak
Reviewing a fictional work presents its own challenges. This is because facts cannot be measured, unlike other genres of literature. But this is often compensated for by strong plots, ‘hangs’ and themes. Usually, works of fiction are easy to read, gripping and unputdownable.
Again, readers of fictional works are attracted by the story told. Abstract stories usually have adults and impressionable young adults as readers. The plots must be fluid, action-packed, thrilling, full of suspense, dramatic and the story thread interrelated. Moreover, fiction, as a genre of literature, unlike biographical, academic journals and books, historical or investigative, must be easy to read, hair raising and able to keep the reader avidly turning the pages.
Fortunately, Realms of Immortals satisfies the whole criteria set for a fictional work. Micheal Ahamefula Ejikeme-Nzeh, a 17-year diploma graduate of the University of Lagos, has been able to express himself by using strong plots to tell his utopian story. His deployment of strong conversational language is a surprise for the work of his age. Two things could be responsible for this. He is either an avid reader of fictional works or, naturally loves, and is blessed with the art of storytelling. So putting this out in his first attempt at writing is quite commendable.
The story is about fictional Igbo communities both on earth and in the astral. It is a gripping interface between the worlds of mortals and immortals. It involves those who transmuted from the physical Igbo communities to the world of immortals and then tried to have control of both realms. It only took the emergence of a young hero, Emeka, the son of a drunken father and a doting mother to reset both realms and stopped the imminent destruction of both worlds.
Did Emeka live to tell the story and enjoy a blissful world he helped to reset? Did he reunite with his mother who was heartbroken and almost kill herself on discovering that he was missing? It is as gripping as it comes.
The ten-short-chapter book, aptly spaced, as mentioned earlier, is set in fairy Igbo communities. Young Emeka became the chosen one because an invisible sign was implanted on his forehead by his forebears. And, so, when Old Ikechukwu, also known as The Wise One, Emeka’s the guiding spirit, met him in a dreamlike encounter, the story of this innocent child changed from anger to horror, and for years, he transmuted between the real world and the Astral, looking for keys that would reset the two worlds and prevent catastrophe. With the help of the guiding spirits, he was able to confront Chijioke, aptly described in the book as The Destroyer.
Being the first attempt at published work, the plots in Realms of Immortals are rather short and brisk. It may have been as a result of the inability to create expansive images. Ahamefula may have experienced writers’ blocl, that moment in which a writer is blank for what to write next. He will find out that his subsequent attempt will be much easier.
But lovers of Harry Porter’s brand of storyline will find this book very interesting. The story teaches a lot of lessons in perseverance, doggedness and ability to hold on to one’s belief. Micheal Ahamefula Ejikeme-Nzeh surely has a future in the literary world.
This book is written in lucid, flawless and the mostly conversational format. It is highly recommended for leisure reading across ages. Students in junior secondary classes or what is called Basic 7 to 9, or even the senior secondary school classes, will benefit immensely in building their grammar, learn about plots and how to train their minds in creating storylines.
Moreover, these days when our young learners pay scant attention to grammatical constructs, especially the use of ‘naughty’ parenthesis, this book will readily be available to fill the gap. It is, therefore, recommended for use, not only in the Igbo speaking states but across the country, as one of the reading materials.
Michael Ahamefula Ejikeme-Nzeh, who hails from Naze in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State, is the grandson of Late High Chief Ejikeme Nzeh, publisher of National Sportlink newspaper, Nigeria’s first all-sports newspaper. His enthusiasm for published work was nurtured at the Benin International School, Lagos, where he won the Spelling Bees competition, organised by Lagos State government. But the real motivation for writing, according to the budding writer, is “my abiding interest in Harry Porter’s book. I love the way he carries his readers along in his books,” he says
• Uwem-Obong Ankak is a publishing and Media Relations Consultant