You see a lot here, Agni. But you are a peculiar boy, and this is a strange place. When those two come together, things happen.
In the rural Marico district of the Northwest Province, an orphaned boy, Agni, arrives at a lonely farmhouse in a valley. There he meets Esmeralda, the old woman who never leaves the shadows of her room, and the mysterious Kagiso, who has always lived on the property. He does not know why he was brought to this place, but as he spends his days in lessons with Esmeralda and discovers the secrets of the land from Kagiso, he begins to experience occurrences, which haunt his waking hours and dreams.
Meanwhile, in a nearby town, Nikus has just finished high school. He longs to leave the Marico for the distant city and saves money by working as a handyman at the eerie old farmhouse. His only friends are the local drunk and the owner of The Outpost Deli, but Nikus also begins to spend time with the girlfriend of his best friend, who had already left for the big world. She gives Nikus hope in a different future, and together they plan to escape.
The lives of Agni and Nikus are bound together by the Marico. They are both caught between the worlds of imagination and reality, rumour and truth. While Nikus is forced to decide between his present and unknown possibilities, Agni clings to Kagiso as they witness Esmeralda’s slow descent into madness.
The Weight of Shade is a haunting, gothic tale that explores the bearing of the past on our lives and whether we can ever escape the circumstances thrust upon us.
Publisher: Karavan Press
Publication date: May 2023
MICHAEL BOYD grew up in Southern Africa – between Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa – before moving to the UK, where he attended the University of Kent. He worked for some time at the Sundance, Telluride, Film Africa and Cambridge Film Festivals. He was also the director and curator of the longest-running African film festival in the UK, the Cambridge African Film Festival. He then turned to a career in teaching and returned to Africa. Having taught in the Northwest Province and Kenya, he now lives in Johannesburg, continuing to work as an English teacher. He recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Witwatersrand, and has published short stories in New Contrast, The Coinage Book, Active Muse, Odd Magazine and MONO Literary Journal. His story “Mama Blue” was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2023. The Weight of Shade is his debut novel.