The Future God of Love is a romance fantasy, set in an African world where stories are essential for the survival of humanity.
Jamaaro, a struggling storyteller, is the future god of love and must create a story every full moon for the prosperity of his town.
When he falls in love with a strange woman, having known loneliness all his life, he ignores the clues that she might not be what she seems.
In a world where each village needs a storyteller to survive, Jamaaro is under great pressure. Years ago he created a story that changed the world, but now he can barely string two sentences together. All he wants is a wife and a family, but for a man who is destined to become a god of love, he has been surprisingly unable to secure either. One day a stranger arrives in town in the guise of a beautiful woman calling herself Nyalisa. Jamaaro falls instantly in love and the two plan to set out on a great quest. And then it all goes spectacularly wrong. As Jamaaro recovers from a life threatening crash, he discovers there is more to Nyalisa than meets the eye.
Dilman Dila is a great worldbuilder. Jamaaro’s land is full of wonders and technological achievements. It feels almost steampunk in a way. There are flying machines and metal homes living alongside magical creatures and men who will one day reincarnate as gods. The setting is absolutely fascinating.
However, as much as I loved the African fantasy elements and the general idea, I struggled a bit with how this book basically came down to how a manipulative cisallohet woman uses and abuses poor, lonely cisallohet men. I kept waiting for the twist on that worn out trope, but it never came. At one point, Jamaaro tries to take his life, and it’s framed in such a way that the blame for his choice is unfairly dumped on Nyalisa. I could see where it seemed like Dila was trying to show that Jamaaro himself was the cause of his own problems rather than Nyalisa, but the overall plot doesn’t quite bear this out.
Despite that, I still enjoyed the novella. I could happily read more stories set in this world…or any other worlds Dila creates.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.