REVIEW: Lost Ark Dreaming by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

In Lost Ark Dreaming by Suyi Davies Okungbowa the seas have risen on the coast of Nigeria. Inside the Fingers—five towers submerged up to level 34 built to house the people who could afford a room and escape the global catastrophe—what feels like one of the last bastions of humanity dwell amongst crumbling technology trapped into class-based levels. In a novella that feels a lot like the author took Snowpiercer, stood it up to point at the sky, submerged the back end of it, and played it out with a new cast in a different part of the world and culture, Lost Ark Dreaming delves deep into a lot of modern themes around the way we treat and mistrust and discriminate against each other in a beautiful, poetic, dreamlike written way.

Lost Ark Dreaming coverIn this post-environmental-apocalypse novella, Lost Ark Dreaming is told through the eyes of Yekini, a technician in the corporation / government department responsible for parsing communications to send to those in command on the upper levels of her tower. Late to work, again, she is tasked (as opportunity or punishment) with going down to the submerged levels to help investigate some damage to an airlock. Ngozi, a higher level member the corporation, gets put on the same job, something he sees as below him as he strives to climb the corporate ladder. Tuoyo is the foreman of the level and airlock in question, and sent the message upstairs to notify them of a breach in the airlock—something feared by the tower as the terrifying Children try to gain access from the dark waters outside.

With very clear messaging around the way our society—and based on where the author seems to have been schooled in their postscript, American society in particular—fails those in the lower and middle classes, and others and excludes people we don’t understand, and how modern governments treat their people, Lost Ark Dreaming maintains a theme of rebellion and breaking free of this trap we’ve built for ourselves throughout. The three perspectives each seem to grow into that vein at their own pace, helping maintain the theme throughout the book, and building a sense of hope through sacrifice as we approach the end.

There is also a very spiritual feel to this story, with the Queen Conch, historic interludes, and some poetry adding a very different experience to what you may expect to find in other books using a similar vehicle to deliver the story. For me, a standard bloke from Sydney, Australia, this really appealed to me and nicely pushed the boundaries of my wheelhouse of reading in a way I really enjoyed—though I am more than certain there are additional themes in the book that I missed that people closer to the countries and cultures written about would enjoy more than I am capable of.

Beautifully written, paced, and imagined, Lost Ark Dreaming is a novella I hope every fan of dystopian post-apocalyptic fiction picks up and tries out. There is plenty in there for readers from all walks of life.

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.