Serwa Boateng's Guide to Vampire Hunting

 
4.3 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
221 0
Serwa Boateng's Guide to Vampire Hunting
Age Range
10+
Release Date
September 06, 2022
ISBN
978-1368066365
Buy This Book
      
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents best-selling YA author Roseanne A. Brown's middle grade debut about a pre-teen vampire slayer with a strong helping of Ghanaian folklore.

For most kids, catching fireflies is a fun summer activity. For twelve-year-old Serwa Boateng, it's a matter of life and death.

That's because Serwa knows that some fireflies are really adze, shapeshifting vampires from the forests of Southeastern Ghana. Adze prey on the blood of innocents, possessing their minds and turning them into hulking monsters, and for generations, slayers like Serwa and her parents have protected an unknowing public from their threats.

Serwa is the best adze slayer her age, and she knew how to use a crossbow before she could even ride a bike. But when an obayifo (witch) destroys her childhood home while searching for a drum, do Serwa's parents take her with them on their quest to defeat her? No. Instead, they dump Serwa with her hippie aunt and cryptic-obsessed cousin in the middle of Nowheresville, Maryland "for her own safety." Now, instead of crossbows and battle armor, she's dealing with mean girls and algebra, and for the first time in her life she doesn't have to carry a staff everywhere she goes, which is . . . kind of nice, actually.

Just as Serwa starts to get the hang of this whole normal girl who doesn't punch vampires every day thing, an adze infiltrates her school. It's up to her to whip some of her classmates into monster-fighting shape before all of them become firefly food. And when she uncovers a secret that upends everything she thought she knew about her family's role in the slayer vs. adze war, Serwa will have to decide which side of herself--normal girl or slayer--is the right one.

After all, seventh grade is hard enough without adding vampires to the mix.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Battling Ghanaian Vampires
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The first page finds Serwa receiving her birthday wish to practice with a magical battle-axe. Then, vampires called adze attack her family of Slayers inside a powerfully-protected safe haven, a place adzes shouldn’t have been able to enter. The exciting opening pages are sure to draw kids into reading the rest of the book. The plot transitions to middle-school drama as Serwa is left with a relative and her daughter Roxy who are living in a remote, supposedly nonmagical part of the country. Serwa has issues with a couple of classmates and they predictably end up forming a team to fight an adze in the school. Serwa breaks numerous rules governing Slayers in the process and the bottom line is that she’s the only one with any training for fighting the creatures of black magic. However, there’s an unexplained energy building up inside Serwa that’s becoming more difficult to control. Readers will anxiously anticipate the inevitable eruption of power.
Serwa’s family heritage is from Ghana which is not commonly found in middle-grade novels. Twi vocabulary is shared but it’s not disruptive and makes sense in the story. Translations are included if the author feels they’re needed. Serwa’s relative mentions she’s heard her husband say some of the words although he’s stuck back in Ghana due to immigration red tape. Ghanaian deities are worshipped and prayed to and a couple make an appearance during the story. Serwa shops in a small store with ethnic foods and ingredients from Africa. Family heritage is important to Serwa and the author includes cultural details when possible to enhance the plot and conflict.
The issues of slavery and prejudice are incorporated into the plot as the quiet haven where Serwa ends up is built atop a former slave plantation. Slaves came from various parts of Africa, including Ghana, and Serwa considers the possibility of slavery having something to do with the new abilities being demonstrated by the adzes. Roxy’s father was deported for an immigration violation while a white woman wasn’t punished at all for her involvement. Serwa and her friends find themselves singled out for punishment while other white classmates get away with similar infractions. One teacher is especially hard on Serwa while insisting she can’t possibly be prejudiced. The unfairness bothers Serwa’s group and it’s frustrating when they’re forced to deal with it.
What didn’t work as well:
It’s a normal occurrence in these types of books, but it can be tiring to read about another powerful, middle-grade character ignoring advice and becoming self-absorbed in her own drama. However, it results in new complications leading to new conflicts that helped to increase the suspense. The plot’s climax and resolution are surprising and entertaining as readers will want to jump right into the sequel. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been published yet at the time of this post.
The Final Verdict:
Middle-grade superheroes are usually big hits and Serwa’s battles with vampires and her own family heritage are exciting and intriguing. Using Ghana as a cultural influence adds a twist and results in a novel perspective of a “common” problem in this genre. Overall, I recommend you give this book a shot.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Fresh new take on vampire lore
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Serwa wants nothing more than to take her initiation test to be a full fledged hunter of the adze, vampiric creatures from Ghanian folklore that really threaten our world. Her father was younger than she is now, but her parents try to protect her. When their home, despite its adinkra wards, is attacked by the adze, they discover that an evil witch, Boahinmaa, wants the Midnight Drum, and her parents are the keepers of it. They won't tell her anything about it, and shuttle her off to stay with her aunt Latricia and cousin Roxy in Rocky Gorge, Maryland while they take off to find Boahinmaa and prevent her from freeing Nana Bekoe, who is a obayifo (witch) who was prominent during the most recent magical war. Serwa has been homeschooled, so going to middle school wtih Roxie is difficult, especially with teachers like Mrs. Dean, an older white woman who calls her Sarah and is constantly performing microagressions that Serwa has to deal with. She's almost as bad as the fact that an adze that Serwa fears are at her new school. After a bad incident in home ec when she thinks there is an adze in another student's back pack and accidentally causes a food fight over it, Serwa sees one of the nicer teachers, Mr. Riley, act as though he HAS been attacked by one. He's overseeing an after school detention that sees Serwa, Roxie, and three other students, Eunju, Gavin, and Mateo, doing community service around the school as punishment for their involvement in the food fight. Serwa realizes that she needs their help, and also realizes that they are all fighting their own personal battles. Roxie's father has been deported to Ghana and is trying to return to the family, Eunju's parents are generous with money, but very uncaring, Mateo has a stutter, and Gavin was abused as a child but is happily living with two foster dads. They believe her, reluctantly, about the adze, and she teaches them to fight, using magic to bring Barbies to life as sparring partners at the abandoned Sweetieville Amusement Park. Serwa calls on the goddess Asaase Yaa for help, but she's busy being a "social influencer" and offers to help only if they can retrieve her sword that was stolen by Anansi in Asamando, the land of the dead. They manage to finish this perilous quest, but that isn't the end of their fighting. Back at school, they need to figure out who the adze in the building is, but even after they manage to take care of that matter, there are even bigger problems that they discover that include relevatory information about Serwa's heritage. Will Serwa be able to keep Rocky Gorge safe without the help of her parents?
Good Points
It was good to see a title that put a new spin on these vampires. There's lots of folklore and Ghananian culture included in Serwa's quest, which I enjoyed. I am an absolute sucker for Fairy Tale Forest type amusement parks, so Sweetieville was fantastic. The characters are all very distinct, which is hard to do when there is also a lot of action and adventure. There are a lot of funny lines ("Rocky Gorge looks like what would happen if Disneyland and a Hallmark greeting card had the world's most autumn-y baby."), and situations, like the iHop being a liminal space between worlds. This was an engaging fantasy book that fans of Chokshi's Aur Shah and Cervantes' Storm Runner series will love.

I've had several students with the last name of Boateng over the years, since my school has had a decent sized population of students of Ghananian descent, so I'll have to buy this book! I do wish that there were some shorter fantasy novels from the Rick Riordan Presents series; many of my students are not fans of this genre, and are unlikely to pick up a 400 page book. If there were some culturally connected fantasy novels that came in at 200 pages, I think they would really enjoy getting into some new types of books.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account