Reimagining the world: recent YA books put a new spin on old tales

New reads from Yaba Badoe, Laura Wood, Shappi Khorsandi, Caroline Busher and more

Yaba Badoe’s Lionheart Girl is a superb read

Yaba Badoe’s Lionheart Girl is a superb read

In The Witches of Gambaga (2010), documentary filmmaker Yaba Badoe interviewed mostly older women who had sought refuge in a “witches’ camp” in northern Ghana after exile from their homes and communities. Accusations of witchcraft made them pariahs, and it was clear that – as is so often the case, whether it’s in 17th-century Salem or having an opinion online – this attempt to control an alleged ill in society was really about that enduring menace, misogyny.

Calling attention to such things is a feminist act, and a strong feminist thread runs throughout Badoe’s new novel, Lionheart Girl (Zephyr, £12.99). In a village inspired by that camp, protagonist Sheba learns from her mother that “we royal women are special . . . Our blood is enriched by generations of ritual and magic. Magic flows through us, Sheba, and whether you like it or not, it trickles out of us.” She is told: “We women are wonderfully, gorgeously made, and men fear us because we give birth to them.”

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