Sister Spirit

Sister Spirit

By Author / Illustrator

Efua Traoré



Age range(s)







Paperback / softback




A supernatural mystery, blending African myth, friendship, romance and self-discovery from prize-winning author, Efua Traoré.

16-year-old adopted Tara has questions - about who she is, where she belongs, why she dreams... When her nightmares darken, fears swarm like a flock of ravens and she traces her visions to the ancient Olumo Rock in Nigeria. It is a sacred place, full of magic, myth, and where whispers of the past linger.  Travelling from England and enrolling in a boarding school at the foot of Olumo, Tara begins a journey to seek the truth of her roots and the spirits that pursue her.

Find out more in our video by Efua Traoré, and read our Q&A with the author!




Written by Nigerian-German author Efua Traore, Sister Spirit is her first novel for older readers. This supernatural mystery/thriller will appeal to those that enjoy stories set in other countries, mysteries, myths and romance.

The main character Tara is a 16-year-old adoptee. She was adopted by British parents at the age of two and although she loves her adoptive parents very much, she is desperate to find out more about her background. She is troubled by nightmares which seem to relate to her past and the sacred Olumo Rock in Nigeria. Tara persuades her adoptive father to take her there on holiday as she wants to learn more about her roots. Whilst she's in Nigeria, she convinces him to enrol her in a boarding school at the foot of Olumo.

I have to say Sister Spirit gripped me from the start. It contained just the right level of tension, history and culture. I enjoyed the boarding school setting where Tara attempted but struggled to fit in and learn the language and traditions.

It's a fabulously gripping journey of self-discovery, where Tara is befriended by Bisi and Lanre who are both incredibly supportive in helping her to uncover her past. I enjoyed the ghostly element to this book and the historical flashbacks in Tara's dreams. There is an element of romance, too, as the attraction between Tara and Lanre grows.

Although the book is marked suitable by the publisher for children aged 12+, the characters in the story are 16 years old and I would say that it was pitched to a slightly older teen and give a suggested reading age as 14+. (We discover that Tara's mother took an overdose to end her life and the spirits encourage Tara to join them.) Content of note:- Mental health, mention of suicide, LGBT character.

320 pages / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


Sister Spirit is a beautifully written, emotional story about a teen girl searching for her identity and, along the way, discovering the reasons behind the vivid images that haunt her dreams. This book weaves cultural and mystical themes through a more real-life narrative of developing independence and friendships.

Tara was adopted as a toddler and raised by loving parents in Britain. As she becomes older, she is increasingly drawn to learning more about her roots. With limited knowledge of her biological parents; a curious diary left to her by her biological mother, the nightly visions that upset her, and that her biological father came from Nigeria, she persuades her adoptive Dad to take her on a trip to Lagos. Immediately she becomes immersed in the local community and is compelled to organise a gap year at a Nigerian boarding school so she can discover more. With her new found friends, Tara begins a challenging journey of self discovery.

Students will enjoy this complex yet highly entertaining book. Efua Traore's description of the colourful city and people of Lagos is breathtaking in its richness. The detailed narrative enables the reader to become immersed in the dialects of the local people, to feel the heat of the sun and the warmth of the breeze, and to smell the sweet aroma of the tropical fruit as Tara explores this new, yet strangely familiar, land.

This beauty runs alongside all the diverse characters at the boarding school, where traditional expectations clash with modern teenagers; into this heady mix comes a tale of loyalty, jealousy and love.

Highly recommended. Publisher reading age recommendation: 12+ years

320 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


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