I love fabulism, and I love stories set outside of the range of the North America I tend to see on the bookshelves locally, and I love finding new-to-me authors, so “The Storm Painter,” by Ayodele Olofintuade was a hat trick thanks to the Strange Horizons Podcast.
We start at an art exhibition, where the artist herself is late, and where heritage both familial and magical is about to make itself known in some terrifying ways. I loved Adé, who is an artist whose works come from within, and who doesn’t deal well with the rest of the world of creativity—selling, exhibitions, being “on”—and just needs a break from the party her sister, Nkem, has arranged for her. Their relationship is painted in broad strokes at first, and while Nkem has a magical, alternate form, Adé does not. She is an artist, inspired and talented, yes, but just an artist.
Or so she thinks. As the story progresses, with a figured glimpsed at a distance and then an unexpected guest, everything in Adé’s world is about to shift (literally) and she finds herself facing off against forces she thought she escaped. I loved everything about this story, but most especially about how it was so deeply about family despite being about the supernatural and magic and awakening power. I’ll be looking out for more Olofintuade.