Magic, adventure, and folklore come together in Duiker’s final novel.
In Phola, where children can speak to dogs and other animals, 11-year-old Nolitye has a compulsion for collecting stones. One day she comes across a stone unlike any of the ones she keeps stored in a bucket under her bed. This one is magical, granting wishes and giving her the urge to giggle, and it’s also going to change her life. Nolitye soon learns from the spirit residing within it that she must find four other missing pieces to unite the stone and restore its full power. Only Nolitye, who has gifts she never imagined, can complete this task. However, there is evil in her village, and dark forces conspire to take the stone away, but with faithful friends Bheki and Four Eyes by her side, Nolitye is up to the challenge. With evocatively descriptive prose and a trio of strong protagonists along with a secondary cast of unique personalities (such as Rotten Nellie, the class bully, or MaMtonga, the terrifying witch next door), Duiker beautifully captures a corner of South Africa (the main characters are black). With strong elements of magical realism, the novel is both charming and whimsical with several heart-thumping moments that make it difficult to put down.
At its core, this posthumously published South African import is a heartwarming story about friendship and persistence. (Fantasy. 10-adult)