Review by CJ
Sithembile ‘Sithi’ Nzeogwu is a union representative for a platinum mining township in South Africa. After years of abuse at the hands of his father and older brother, current police chief Baako Nzeogwu, Sithi defends those who cannot defend themselves. But when corrupt police spark the powder keg of already disgruntled mine workers, who will be there to defend Sithi?
While political thrillers aren’t usually my preferred book of choice, I was hooked by What Comes From The Earth from the first chapter where we meet Sithi and Baako as children. We are introduced to two characters who are already set up as complex and very different.
While Sithi is by no means the golden hero, he is an easily likeable character. If anything, Sithi’s tendency to stumble into bad choices and the stubbornness with which he follows through on them only serve to make the character more realistic.
As much as Sithi isn’t a flawless protagonist, his brother Baako has more depth than the evil antagonist you want him to be. It would be so easy to loathe Baako from our first few meetings with him, however once again the complexity of the character does not allow for any one feeling or reaction towards him.
Thrown in the mix are several other characters with more depth than we are initially led to believe. These characters are carefully interwoven and introduced in such a way so as to cause the reader to underestimate their abilities — for evil in one instance and for good in another.
The plot of What Comes From The Earth moves along at a steady pace until the climax at which point it is turned to 11. Never throughout reading it did I feel bored or hope that the plot would move along faster as can be the case with some thrillers. Holt manages to show rather than tell which is a great skill to bring to a thriller and helps keep the story in motion.
Overall, What Comes From The Earth would not have been my first choice based purely on my own personal genre preferences. However, had I not read it, I would have missed out on a fascinating look into a post-apartheid South African mining community with complex characters and a well driven plot featuring corruption, power struggles, violence and sacrifice.