As an expat living abroad, I fully understand how important it is to embrace your origins, perpetuate traditions from home and socialise with compatriots who share your values and common heritage, so I can appreciate why the characters in The Dragon Society are attracted to the opulent social club of the same name, frequented principally by successful African men. Hidden behind this respectable front, however, is a terrifying, occultist, secret society.
The book has a chilling supernatural overtone - once members have signed up to become full members of the Dragon Society, their life suddenly takes a turn for the better with riches and professional success coming their way. There's no such thing as a free lunch though, and new members will soon have a terrifying dream in which the 'queen of dragons' will make it known what she wants in return - usually the life of a loved one, who mysteriously meets their downfall a short time afterwards. Other members know exactly what will be required and are happy to pay their dues in return for personal gain - the idea of "blood money" and living sacrifice is a well-documented part of African folklore so I had a quick google, because I found it both fascinating and chilling.
What gives the book such impact and believability is the way that the supernatural elements of the story are woven into mundane day-to-day life, such as going to work or doing the weekly shop at Sainsbury's. The occultist activities are presented as a perfectly normal part of life in the African community, with everyone believing in them, even if they don't partake in them. The book also has a powerful message of God overcoming all, however far from the rightful path you have strayed, but this aspect is dealt with subtly and is by no means offputting if you don't have any religious beliefs.
The characters are realistic, despite the supernatural goings-on, and you can really empathise with their plight, particularly of the unwitting victims who didn't know what they were getting into and can see no way out. It's an interesting and original story that was a thoroughly enjoyable, if spine-tingling, read !
star rating : 4.5/5
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.