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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Black Volta is an intense and interesting work of literary fiction penned by author Pete KJ. As the title suggests, much of the novel centers around the Black Volta River in Ghana, Africa, with events speared across three decades as lives from the past come back together in the present. One such figure is Carlos, who seeks deep atonement for the sins of his past, and returns to Ghana to own up to the crimes of his youth. Liz has long since left Ghana for more opportunities in the USA, but she has to support the family she has left behind, and slowly she too is drawn back to the river where her own secrets and traumas lie.
Author Pete KJ writes with highly atmospheric prose that evokes every sense when he writes of Ghana. The culture, climate and harrowing oppression of poverty are powerfully evoked in a truly literary way, and the characters are used to convey the bleak history of such a unique and beautiful place in the world. As the river flows through the novel to give it its rich flavor, the characters slowly come to life and we learn more about their grievous pasts. Themes of race and identity are the most prevalent, with effective close narration that gives us much from the characters’ internal psyches and produces a highly emotive arc for them both as a result. Overall, Black Volta is a highly accomplished cultural novel with plenty of intrigue and strong character plot arcs to keep readers thrilled from beginning to end.