Jul 15, 2014

Book Review: The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nikolits

The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nikolits
Published May 21, 2014 by Inanna Publications.
Genre: fiction
Objective rating: 4 out of 5 points.
The sangoma," Jono said,"or the witch-finder, is the one who sniffs out the witches. Sangoma is a Zulu word for the traditional healer and he or she will be invited to cleanse an entire village of witchcraft..." (p. 68)
Background: A group of tourists in South Africa travel by bus with a tour guide and a cook, setting out on a long trek, camping and sightseeing, starting from Cape Town in South Africa and heading north into the desert and jungles of Namibia. Jono the driver and Treasure the cook are in charge of the tour group made up of mainly Americans and Canadians from various backgrounds - some traveling as singles, others as couples.

About the group: The tourists are a mixed bunch of personalities. We learn right off which ones are average travelers and which are secretive, obsessive compulsive, and even mentally ill. The main character is a young Canadian woman Kate, who is on the African trip to get over a broken romance with a boyfriend back home. She teams up with Marika as her tent mate and quietly observes all the members of the group. They are such a varied group but they all try to put up with each other's foibles and quirky behavior.

The main action: One of the tour members dies, others are injured, some leave the tour on their own, and another tour member is killed in what seems like an accident. Kate decides to stick with the tour even as others leave. Jono the driver and tour guide swears this is the last time he will take tourists on this particular trip.

What I got from the book: I learned about the Bushmen tribe, about some African folk beliefs and mythologies. I found out more about local witchcraft and the local beliefs in the power of the supernatural. I saw vicariously a part of South Africa and some of the tourist sights and places to see wild animals in Namibia, and also learned about the dangers of the land - poisonous plants being one of them. I liked that the novel included a map of the places on the tour

This is a tense but interesting story of a group of people stuck together in an unusual situation, on an African tour in this case, some of them having pretty murderous intentions. This is not a beach read. A few of the characters and situations are truly frightening, but then all ends well (as well as can be expected in the situation) in the end. Well told and developed, this is a book for mystery lovers, adventure lovers, and those curious about Africa.

The author: Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits of Canada has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Her novels: The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women's Issues Fiction. West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the IPPY Silver Medal for Popular Fiction, 2014. 
For more reviews of the book, visit Partners in Crime ToursThanks to PIC Tours and the publisher for a review copy.


  1. It sounds interesting, but probably not one I would read in the evening when getting ready for sleep! Since Harvee recommends it... that makes it a sure bet for me!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this mystery with us. Sounds like a really intriguing novel that draws the reader in.

  3. The plot and characters of this one sound really good. Combining such an exotic seeming journey with interesting characters and a little darkness has such potential.


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