Brown Girl in the Ring

My first novel won the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest in 1997 and was published by Warner Aspect (now Grand Central Publishing) in July of 1998.

Linda Messier created the cover image.

my first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring

Some comments on the novel:

A wild story, colorful and enthralling...weird and at the same time totally convincing; you don't read this book, you live in it-- and though it'll chase you across some scary landscapes, you'll be sorry to go home again when you put it down. --Tim Powers

This powerful tale of powerful women dances on the border between fantasy and science fiction. Drawing on Afro-Caribbean spirituality, Nalo has created a future that is large enough to contain both zombies and organ transplants, a future in which the power of ancient ritual coexists with medical innovations and urban destruction. --Pat Murphy

Believable, living characters. I've been telling people about Nalo Hopkinson's book. It is great. --Octavia

Something clicked in my head and suddenly I no longer had to figure out the dialect, I simply understood it. ... And the story. I became enthralled with the tidbits of Caribbean culture, the Voudoun ceremonies, the mix of old world and new world sensibilities. The plot took on an intensity that literally propelled me through the pages. ... When I closed the book, the patois of its voices went on speaking in my head for days. ... Now that I'm done, I can only add my own voice to the chorus already proclaiming it to be one of the best debut novels to appear in years. --Charles de Lint,
Magazine of Fantasy of Science Fiction

The musical rhythms of Caribbean voices and the earthy spirit-magic of obeah. Hopkinson's writing is smooth and assured, and her characters lively and believable.

-Publishers' Weekly

If you are wondering why a story that takes the existence of wonder-working spirits for granted is science fiction, then you have not fallen under the spell of Hopkinson's island-accented prose. She treats spirit-calling the way other science fiction writers treat nanotechnology or virtual reality; like the spirits themselves, the spirit-callers follow rules as clear to the equations of motion or thermodynamics are to scientists and engineers. ... I am happy to report that Hopkinson lives up to her advance billing.

-Gerald Jonas,
The New York Times

Hopkinson shows considerable talent at
the basics of suspense, action, and graphic horror, but the
richness of her novel comes from the seamless way she combines a
near-future SF setting with a vividly realized cast of characters
and a coherent magical tradition impressive, energetic, and
highly original debut from a writer worth watching.

, July 1998

Here's an excerpt from an early chapter:

Beside him, Ti-Jeanne giggled, a manic, breathy sound that made Tony's scalp prickle. She rose
smoothly to her feet and began to dance with an eerie, stalking
motion that made her legs seem longer than they were, thin and
bony. Shadows clung to the hollows of her eyes and cheekbones,
turning her face into a cruel mask. She laughed again. Her voice
was deep, too deep for her woman's body. Her lips skinned back
from her teeth in a death's head grin.

”Prince of Cemetery!” Mami
hissed, her eyes wide. She kept her rhythm going, but even

”You know so, old lady”, Ti-Jeanne rumbled. She pranced on long legs over to Mami, bent down, down, down; ran a bony forefinger over the old woman's cheek. “Good and old, yes? Like you nearly ready to come to me soon, daughter!”

To Tony's surprise, Mami Gros-Jeanne
spoke sternly, drumming all the while, to the spirit that was
riding her granddaughter. “I ain't no daughter of yours.
Stop the foolishness and tell me what you doing with Ti-Jeanne.
You know she head ain't ready to hold no spirits yet.”

Ti-Jeanne/Prince of Cemetery chuckled,
a hollow sound like bones falling into a pit. He danced over to
Eshu's stone head and used a long, long finger to scoop up some
of the chicken blood thickening there. Slowly he licked and
sucked it off his finger, smiling like a child scraping out the
batter bowl. Tony's stomach roiled. “But doux-doux”,
Prince of Cemetery said, “Your granddaughter head full of
spirits already; she ain't tell you? All kind of duppy and thing.
When she close she eyes, she does see death. She belong to me.
She is my daughter. You should 'fraid of she.”