Sin springs to life in the form of literal monsters in Tochi Onyebuchi’s 2017 novel, which is inspired by folklore from his Nigerian heritage. In the oligarchical city of Kos—modeled on the Nigerian city of Lagos—nobles are spared from owning up to their sins by hiring warriors to kill the monstrous physical manifestations of their wrongdoings. The novel follows Taj, a teenager who is so skilled at killing these monsters that he becomes entangled in the mindgames of the palace’s upper echelons. With plenty of fearsome fight scenes, the novel also offers a searing look at elitism and power structures—and this balancing act of thrill and inquiry promises to make the 33-year-old Onyebuchi a power player in the YA world in the years to come.

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Correction, October 20

The original version of this story misstated author Tochi Onyebuchi’s birthplace. He is from Massachusetts, not Nigeria.

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