‘The Witchdoctor’s Bones’

‘The Witchdoctor’s Bones’ is the latest from Lisa de Nikolits. I’ve heard Lisa present sections of her novels at various reading nights over the past couple of years. She always manages to present tidy snippets of complex novels, that stand alone but invite us to want to read the whole novel.

blue lonely blue

Witchdoctor follows the well-establish structure of strangers on a journey revealing their lives, secrets and fears as they travel. ‘From Canterbury Tales’ to ‘Then There Were None’ this story telling framework gives writers a strong form to work with.

shrug day of the dead tree

In Witchdoctor we join a disparate group of travellers on a bus tour from Cape Town, South Africa to Fort Namutoni, Nambia. As they travel tempers and passions flair. Death follows them with increasing tension as the novels progresses.

Lisa handles a large cast well, each of the tourists has a clear personalty, motives become clear then vague as more layers of their lives are peeled back. She also conveys a real sense of place, the heat, the dust, the humor and the endlessness of the bus ride itself.

red didn’t make it to the lights

In conveying so much details about the tour the book verges on a travel guide but the information is parcelled out in digestible portions and never overwhelms the story as it unfolds. With so many characters I did get a bit lost and some didn’t really propel the story forward.

If romance, suspense and serial killers under the African sun are your cup of tea this book is for you.

samples Door

I shut you out

with a smile  a little joke  a judgment

about the small minor little trivial things

the way you sit

the way you clack the giant spoon

against the coffee cup

that small gesture

shakes the foundations

I shut you out

by deciding

this isn’t exactly perfect

in my dream

you aren’t so tall  so thin so willing

so ready wanting  needy  omnipresent

you are so right

in the dream

I have shut you out so effectively

you aren’t even present

so effectively that no one is present

the room is plain empty white

silent self illuminating

I shut you out

buy sneering at your taste

in music in friends

those dope smoker idiots

who never come around

unless you use the lure of diversion

whilst I am there


you don’t have to entertain me

I shut you out

by not giving you that chance

force you to just be

to just sit and not move

so I can look and enjoy the vision of you

silent  sullen  in a quiet room

no loud cranky aggressive music

only a faint echo

from across the street

a piano tinkle  a snore

I shut you out

by acting as if I don’t care

that you are so busy

that you have made a life

that allows you

to enjoy life without me


like an over eager parent

with milk and cookies

for you and your sleazy little

druggie buddies

oh oh there I’ve gone and done it again

like I always seem to do

brought in a judgement

that shuts you out

that lowers you

that raises me

how silly I can be sometimes

I can use that guilt to shut you out

I’m too judgmental for you

I don’t really care what you do

is the lie I use

to shut myself out

from myself

I don’t say a thing

that is the hardest slam

I know

the silent nudge

the ponderous heavy superiority

I don’t want to maintain

but want to blame it on


my upbringing

my righteous path to the glory of god


to keep that smudge

away from my little clean corner of the world

I come back to you

because you are the human one

so sweet angry tender  hurt

looking for something

but not sure what

while I am here nose up turned

distrustful of your search

not allow it to just be

I have to judge it rate it

oh well

what’s a man to do

there is love in the air

when someone on the other side of the door

knocks to be let in

scratches at a window

plays in the sun

I know I have to let myself out

before I can let anyone in

and that means  open the door

come in  come out  move about

as I try not to shut you out

SAM_1020tip 1: toss what you don’t need

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