The Hangman’s Replacement by Taona D. Chivenko definitely isn’t what it appears to be. It isn’t a book about Abel Muranda who wants to become the next hangman of Zimbabwe. In fact, I believe he is an incidental character. So is Zimbabwe. There is very little sense of place. This is a book that could have taken place anywhere, and it’s a rather mordant novel of ideas about the suicidal tendencies of humanity. I received this book from Net Galley some time ago and this is my review.
There are numerous methods of functionally replacing an individual hangman because humans are ingenious purveyors of death. This has been shown throughout history. Swiftian “modest proposals” that seem frighteningly plausible from the realm of science fiction appear in this book.
The Hangman’s Replacement has no definite ending because the author has imagined it as the opening novel in a series. I will not be reading further. I am uncertain of the direction of this series, but I’m quite sure that it’s nowhere that I personally would like to go. I would like to believe that humanity can overcome its darker tendencies, but Chivenko doesn’t seem to leave the door open to such a possibility. This is not my sort of book.
Carnival Masks courtesy of Salvatore Vuono