The daughter of a river god, raised by a human father and bound to a tragic destiny. An African fantasy-adventure graphic novel inspired by the mythology of the Zambezi River and the history of the Kariba Dam, one of the largest dams ever constructed.
From the director of Aau’s Song, a Star Wars: Visions film from Lucasfilm, and the director of the 2023 NYICFF award-winning The Smeds and the Smoos
Siku has always called the Zambezi River her home. She understands the water – and strangely enough, it seems to understand her, too, bending to her will and coming to her aid in times of need. But things are changing on the river – a great dam is being built, displacing thousands of Shonga people – and things are changing in Siku, too, as her ability to manipulate water grows out of control, and visions of a great serpent pull her further from reality and her loving father, Tongai.
When Tongai ventures to the Kariba Dam to find a cure for Siku and never returns, she sets off to find him with the help of Amedeo, the young son of Kariba’s chief engineer. Together, they traverse elephant graveyards, rugged jungles, and ancient ruins, outrunning pirates, bootleggers, and shape-shifting prophets ready to use Siku to their own advantage. But Siku soon discovers that her father has been shielding a terrible secret: Siku is actually the daughter of the Great River Spirit, Nyaminyami, and the only way to bring about the necessary rumuko - a ritual which has brought balance to the Zambezi for centuries - is for Siku to give up the only life she's ever known.
With the future of the Shonga resting on her shoulders, Siku must journey to the source of the river to understand the ancient power hidden within her.
“Finding inspiration in fantasy, history, and mythology, the book combines those elements along with a Japanese animation influence, resulting in an exhilarating adventure.[...] The art is detailed and lush, with beautiful colors throughout. Of particular note are the gorgeous showcases of water, whether in stunning waterfall images or an underwater view of the river with sunlight dappling at the surface. [...] Kariba is a mystical graphic novel about magic, self-discovery, and the delicate balance between human ambition and the natural world.” — Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
[A]n astonishing fairy tale […] The art is utterly breathtaking throughout, saturated with sumptuous color, enhanced with stupendous details, vivid with energy and action. A 2017 Kickstarter campaign made this wondrous graphic title possible—it’s a wow-inducing phenomenal gift to be treasured." — Booklist, Starred Review
“This fast-paced work, full of daring acts and highlighting Siku’s powerful voice, has a backdrop inspired by colonial history. The illustrations are reminiscent of an animated feature, with strong facial expressions and vivid hues. The varied style of the panels adds extra vigor, particularly when Siku is having watery visions, as the shapes and edges become fluid. […] A dynamic, mystical coming-of-age story.” — Kirkus Reviews"This is an African fantasy-adventure graphic novel without comparison. The artworks draw the reader into Africa in a stunning appreciation for nature. The use of language, symbolism and engaging dialogue helps to keep one foot of the reader in African culture, and the other in global myth. The creators – Daniel Clarke, James Clarke and Daniel Snaddon – have made excellent synergy of their talents and experiences, to offer the world a story that cannot be ignored." — World Kid Lit"The story of Kariba Dam is a story of colonialism. But Kariba is in no way a white savior narrative. Siku is her own agent, and forges her own way. Like other great works of fantasy, Kariba asks more questions than it answers. […] Libraries interested in increasing their selection of African stories would do well to consider adding this book to their collections. Furthermore, young fans of historical fiction, fantasy, or graphic novels may all find something of appeal in this coming-of-age story set in a changing world." — Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI)
"A riveting coming-of-age story that intertwines magic and history. [...] Kariba shows Siku, her allies, her enemies, and the reader that magic and the material world are not a dichotomy with one needing to die for the other to grow. Instead, they are both parts of the whole, and we need both to live our best."— Blogcritics
“Rooted in the richness of ancient Zimbabwean myth, gorgeously produced and brilliantly realised, KARIBA is a work of astonishing imagination from artists and storytellers of exceptional talent. One of the very best graphic novels to come out of Africa, KARIBA will move and delight readers of all ages and backgrounds for years and years to come.” — Petina Gappah, Out of Darkness, Shining Light
"KARIBA is a wonderful story of self-discovery, with stunning visuals fit for animation. Take your time with it, savour every panel of every page. It is indeed a visual feast." — Setor Fiadzigbey, illustrator, Marvel Legends' Black Panther
"[S]eamlessly blends myth and history with a gorgeously immersive story with equally stunning artwork that almost seems to move about the page. With a focus on protecting family, folklore, and embracing the changes around you and within—KARIBA is sure to entice readers of all ages!" — Tara O'Connor, Fly By Night
"A rich and lushly inhabited telling of stories about struggle and resistance against environmental and colonial oppression, KARIBA brings a loveable ensemble of characters together with vibrancy to tell a story that jumps off the page. Beautifully illustrated evoking the expansive storytelling found in works such as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke. It is reimaginings of our histories such as this that reminds us of the magic that exists in the struggles for a better world." — Hugo Martínez, illustrator, Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts
“Magic, mayhem, and African folklore sprinkles across this middle reader graphic novel fantasy adventure that brings a young indigenous girl with special powers the one to save her local village from those that wish to do it harm. Inspired by the Kariba Dam conflict and filled with lush illustrations and compelling characters, this comic book will expose readers to different culture and mythical storytelling.” —Gerard Villegas, Auntie's Bookstore
“A rich, complex narrative pairs with lush and fantastical artwork to share the life of Siku, a young girl who is tasked with hiding a great power inside her. Strong, capable, and determined to do the right thing, Siku embarks on a perilous quest that will have her tapping into the core of who (or what) she is. Pick up this stunning graphic novel and get lost in a world all its own.” –Katherine Megna-Weber, Books Inc.
"[W]ith its sinuous, fantastic shapes and deep greens and blues, the book recalls Studio Ghibli works such as The Red Turtle or My Neighbor Totoro.” — Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School