Mussi combines a fascinating historical plot with fast-paced action adventure. Zac is a 16 year old African-British kid who doesn’t believe his grandfather’s stories. But when Pops is murdered in the street, Zac is thrown into a world of secrets which cover a shocking and long-hidden past.
Zac learns he is the descendant of an African Cormantin Prince captured as a slave in 1700. This broke a ransom exchanged between the British conquerors and the Cormantin King, something for which Zac could sue the British Government, and which, therefore, the British police are desperate to conceal. Zac is soon surrounded by sinister figures who lurk in the shadows.
Zac’s first-person narrative treats us to the often random thoughts of an adolescent mind, tending to either exaggerate or underestimate danger. Yet this perspective also allows us to empathise more deeply with an otherwise long-distant history. The language is not sophisticated but is relatively refined and, thankfully, often implies without saying. We learn of the brutality of slavery, but descriptions are not gratuitous. Sadly, Christianity only appears as a false cover for the baddies, but at least the guise is easy to see through.
What is particularly refreshing is that the tragic evils of history don’t have the last say: a harrowing past full of cowardly and selfish people is transformed through courage and friendship into a heroic and ultimately successful struggle.
Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is the manager of Portico Books. Contrary to popular belief this doesn’t involve reading all day.