Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and named among the 50 most notable new books from Africa, Castles from Cobwebs follows one girl’s transition from youthful innocence to understanding as she navigates questions about family, identity, and race.
"I'd always known that I was Brown. Black was different though; it came announced. Black came with expectations, of rhythm and other things that might trip me up."
Imani is a foundling. Rescued as a baby and raised by nuns on a remote Northumbrian island, she grows up with an ever-increasing feeling of displacement. Full of questions, Imani turns to her shadow, Amarie, and her friend Harold. When Harold can't find the answers, she puts it down to what the nuns call her "greater purpose". At nineteen, Imani answers a phone call that will change her life: she is being called to Ghana after the sudden death of her biological mother.
Past, present, faith and reality are spun together in this enthralling debut. Following her transition from innocence to understanding, Imani's experience illuminates the stories we all tell to make ourselves whole.
“Mensah’s prose is gorgeous and lyrical, conjuring crystalline images … Strong women abound … Mensah’s storytelling skills make for an atmospheric, poignant, and bold novel that explores uncharted territory.” Foreword Reviews, May/June 2022, Starred review
"From start to finish, I was spellbound…. Mensah intricately weaves complex characters, vivid descriptions, universal topics of love, loss, identity, religion, with themes like the search for a place to belong, into a well spun tapestry, a mind-spinning tale, a heart-pounding novel—and I'm hooked. I absolutely love this book." Yvonne Battle-Felton, author of Remembered, nominated for the Women's Prize 2019
"Real beauty and clarity in the prose ... powerful and unique." Chitra Ramaswamy, winner of the debuts prize at Scotland's National Book Awards and columnist at the Guardian
"A compelling exploration of memory, race, mothers and the fractured self, Mensah … interrogates how to put disparate parts of our identities together to become the most true version of ourselves." Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater, winner of the Portico Prize 2020
"Mensah doesn't shy away from tough subjects ... a well-crafted debut ... an extraordinary literary talent and ... a thoroughly recommended read." Northern Soul magazine