As Ethiopia faces an imminent invasion by Italy, an orphaned girl struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid. Her employer, Kidane, who serves as an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to recruit his men to take on Mussolini’s formidable army. On the other hand, Hirut is less than content with her assigned role as a nurse to the wounded. Fate, however, has something else in store for her. And that is what The Shadow King is all about – a girl who dares to stand up to an unforgiving enemy.
As their revered Emperor goes into exile and all Ethiopian hopes vanish, Hirut comes up with a plan to keep the morale high. The maid helps disguise a peasant as the Emperor and becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms. However, even as the future of her country begins to look brighter, her own future is destined for a catastrophic finale.
Prisoner to one of Italy’s most savage officers, what will become of poor Hirut? Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020, The Shadow King is an unforgettable account of female power; it is a grim reminder of what it means to be a woman at war.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: September 2020
Number of Pages: 448
Author: Maaza Mengiste
Publisher: Canongate Books