Book Review: ‘A Spell of Good Things’ by Ayòbámi Adébáyò

A Powerful Tale of Sisterhood, Solidarity, and Overcoming Adversity in Nigeria


Book Title: A Spell of Good Things
Author: Ayòbámi Adébáyò
Publisher: Canongate Books
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-1838856052
Date Published: Feb. 9, 2023
Price: INR 494

A Spell of Good Things by Ayòbámi AdébáyòBook Cover

Book Review

Set in the 2000s, “A Spell of Good Things” is timely, exploring classism, an ever-relevant subject. This happens in Nigeria’s failing political system, where it only takes a series of small, isolated incidents to escalate and alter the trajectory of affairs. Adébáyò summarises the jarring disparity in class divide, the fickle nature of the middle class, and the ricocheting effects of social inequality. The story is set in Ilesha, Osun State, where Eniola Oni and Wuraola Makinde’s lives are juxtaposed, highlighting the stark reality of social inequality. This novel’s timing, coinciding with an election, beautifully interweaves themes of political thuggery, which was prevalent during this period.

This story delves into various themes: poverty, abuse, leadership failures, political thuggery, love, and sisterhood. The author, Adebayo, employs the first-person perspective, allowing the characters to share their unique stories. Eniola Oni, a 13-year-old, witnesses his family’s descent into poverty after his father loses his job, while Wuraola, a 28-year-old medical doctor, grapples with an abusive fiancé.

A prominent theme throughout the novel is the solidarity among women. Adebayo portrays women either supporting each other or the people in their lives. The love and support between sisters are heartwarming, exemplified by Yeye and her elder sister, Aunty Biola, who is her pillar throughout their lives. Their relationship reflects the profound bond between siblings, which is selfless and profound.

Society’s expectations and the lack of support networks become evident through characters like Eniola’s mother, Abosede, who resorts to desperate measures due to a lack of familial assistance. The story underscores how a stronger support system, particularly among siblings, can alleviate the burdens on individuals facing adversity.

The novel addresses the important issue of domestic abuse, which is often normalized in Nigerian society. Through characters like Motara, who supports her sister Wuraola in leaving an abusive relationship, the story highlights the significance of having a safe and non-judgmental space for victims. This support system can empower women to break free from toxic relationships, reducing the prevalence of abuse. This novel reminds the famous Indian women writers like Nirupama Debi, KR. Meera, Bama, Mahaswetha Devi, and many whose works depict the plight of women.

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Overall, Adebayo’s exploration of sisterhood is a compelling catalyst for women to forge meaningful relationships, dispelling the notion that women are each other’s adversaries. The novel beautifully encapsulates the idea that women genuinely comprehend the challenges women face, offering a poignant message of unity and mutual support.

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