Ozioma the Wicked by Nnedi Okorafor – Read in Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures

TO MOST, OZIOMA WAS A NASTY LITTLE GIRL whose pure heart had turned black two years ago, not long after her father’s death. Only her mother would dis- agree, but her mother was a mere fourth wife to a dead yam farmer. So no one cared what her mother thought.”



From Unnatural Creatures
Hardcover, 462 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Harper Collins (first published April 1st 2013)
Original Title
Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman
0062236296 (ISBN13: 9780062236296)
Edition Language


I was there when NNEDI OKORAFOR won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for Who Fears Death, and cheered as loudly as anyone. She’s a wonderful writer who makes her home in Chicago and has the best hair in the world.  Twelve years old, and able to speak with poisonous snakes, Ozioma’s the undefeated champion of her village—despite the fact that everyone in it thinks she’s a witch. One day, though, a tremendous serpent descends from the heav- ens, and tests even Ozioma’s courage…..”


Ozioma the Wicked is a short story written by writer Nnedi Okorafor. It appears as the the fourth short story in the collection Unnatural Creatures. I chose to review each of the stories separately due to the stories found in the collection being so different. The stories have come from different eras. Some were written by fantasy writers, hard science fiction, comedy writers and even satirists.
Ozioma is no different.
Ozioma is about a young girl who can talk to snakes. Or, rather a young Nigerian girl who can communicate with snakes or sense what their intentions are. This isn’t Harry Potter though. I believe that the picture that Okorafor paints is a much truer picture of how a small town or community would handle a girl like her. They ostracize her. They belittle her. They call her a witch. Ozioma is a a model of courage in the face of hard circumstances, in the face of mob mentality, and in the face of fear this little girl shines. It is a great story and at this point I would expect nothing less from Okorafor. But, if you get an opportunity to check out this short story by itself, I think it is 30 pages or so, or read Unnatural Creatures in its totality please do. It is worth the read.

Afam stopped, out of breath. “There,” he said, pointing. Then he quickly backed away and ran off, hiding behind the nearest house and peeking around its corner. Ozioma turned back to the tree just as it began to rain. Shaped like two spiders, a large one perched upside down upon a smaller other, the thick smooth branches and roots were ideal for sitting. On days of rest, the men gathered around it to argue, converse, drink, smoke, and play cards on dif- ferent branch levels. 


I checked this out from the library


Binti – Nnedi Okorafor


Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois. Learn more about Nnedi at Nnedi.com.


  1. Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote

    Having read her Binti trilogy, I can totally see her staple imagination in this one. Love that you’re reviewing these individually. I mean, picked by Gaiman himself too? They’re bound to be awesome with plenty of things to talk about. Great review! 😀

    1. Beth Tabler

      Thank you! I love this collection. They are so diverse I thought “why not review them separately?” Each has been a treat. Especially this one. Her use of language and imagery shines. She almost writes as if in prose. A lot like Binti.

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