Xolo Score 2.75/5
Goddess Crown is a thrilling Afro-fantasy novel by Shade Lapite that takes readers on a captivating journey through a magical world filled with revenge plots, power struggles, and mythical creatures. The story is set in the kingdom of Galla. In this land, the protagonist Kalothia has grown up in the shadows of Galla, hidden away in the forested East after her parents were outed as enemies of the King. Her once quiet world living in hiding is thrown upside down when assassins attack her home on her sixteenth birthday, killing her caretakers. Driven by the desire to find answers and justice for her family, Kalothia sets forth to the King’s court - a beautiful but lethal city entrenched in patriarchy.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
Kalothia is an exciting, kind-hearted hero with the determination to seek justice. Once Kalothia begins her harrowing journey and expands her worldview beyond secluded forests, she quickly questions Galla’s gendered structures and social hierarchies. Galla’s laws were built off The Goddess’s precepts, but their interpretations have created a patriarchal society. Kalothia sees how these beliefs create wide disparities and inequalities.
Lapite intentionally avoids the “not like other girls” trope with Kalothia. Throughout her journey, Kalothia encounters different women and girls in Galla who are surprised by her independence, education, and ferociousness. Kalothia doesn’t look down on these women but instead adds these inequalities to the never-ending list of reasons why she hates the King and the people who keep women down in the name of their Goddess.
However, although Kalothia is staunch in gender equality for the people of Galla, the story has few female characters with significant subplots and development. All the female-identifying characters Kalothia encounters primarily exist to move her story along. The book’s fast pace doesn’t allow exploration of characters’ motives, but hopefully, Lapite will have opportunities to develop these characters in the sequels.
Goddess Crown is a compelling Afro-Fantasy that blends magic with dismantling patriarchy.
To what extent are there BIPOC leading characters or perspectives?
How well does the author avoid writing BIPOC experiences through the white gaze?
To what extent does the author challenge white-centered beliefs?
How well does the book explore nuances between intersectional identities?