The Cellar

192p. ebook available. Grove Atlantic/Mysterious. Feb. 2016. Tr $24. ISBN 9780802124517.
Stolen from her home in Africa six years earlier, 14-year-old Muna lives as a slave to Ebuka, Yetunde, and their two boys. When she is not cleaning or tending to the family, she is hidden in the cellar, her one refuge. Daily beatings and berating by Yetunde leave her silent and wary. And even the cellar provides no real safety, for she is regularly raped by Ebuka. But when the younger boy goes missing, things change for Muna. Brought up from the cellar and into her own room, given new clothes, and disguised as the family's mentally deficient daughter, Muna relishes her new position as the police question her and the family. Weeks go by, but the boy's disappearance remains unsolved. Throughout the questioning, it becomes apparent that not only is Muna not mentally deficient but she is intelligent, has learned English, and is determined to create a life for herself by using those who have cruelly taken advantage of her. Not knowing whom to trust and unaware of the wider world, Muna works step by patient step, exacting revenge upon this family. One by one, family members begin to realize that Muna has more power than they thought possible. By the end, readers will be pondering: Are killers born, or are they created?
VERDICT Offer to mature teens who can handle the dark side of the human condition.

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