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Publisher's Summary

It is the late 21st century, and due to the economic breakdown and rising crime rate, nearly every citizen has fled Toronto. The city is a slum, populated by the homeless, the poor, and criminals like Rudy, who uses the power of voodoo to help him control the booming drug market. But also left behind are people like Ti-Jeanne, who hope to use voodoo to help rebuild the city, even as Canada's privileged population turns to Toronto to begin harvesting human organs.

To uncover the future voices of science fiction, Time Warner Publishing sponsored a contest that attracted hundreds of submissions. Brown Girl in the Ring was the winning entry, announcing author Nalo Hopkinson to the world as a tremendous new talent.

©1998 Nalo Hopkinson (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC

Critic Reviews

"Hopkinson's writing is smooth and assured, and her characters lively and believable. She has created a vivid world of urban decay and startling, dangerous magic, where the human heart is both a physical and metaphorical key." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating, unique story deftly narrated

Kudos to Recorded Books for creating a line of audio books written and narrated by people of color.

Nalo Hopkinson's first novel shows exceptional powers of imagination and compassion. Her ear for dialect is superb (well, based on my limited knowledge of dialect) and the narration brings it alive. I am a little disappointed that the narrator is male, since the author and main protagonist are female, but it's a minor complaint.

Note that as it is a horror genre book, there's a lot of violence and torture.

If you like Neil Gaiman's works, especially Anansi Boys, you'll like this book.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anna
  • East Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 04-05-13

Heavy Heavy!!

What did you love best about Brown Girl in the Ring?

I appreciate the story on all of its levels. It presented so many issues. Social and Political, modern practice of ancestral practices, connecting with spirits, poverty, crime.... all exist in this story centered around one woman's quest to find herself.

This story was colorful, heartfelt. Warm and cold.

What did you like best about this story?

The story definitely has elements that challenge the western approach to healing and living. It does so in a way that does not demonize those who practice it.

I love the Author's descriptive writing style, I can connect to the story and all my senses are activated.

Have you listened to any of Peter Jay Fernandez’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have never listened to Peter Jay Fernandez, and he is amazing! The story is written in a patois and he performs it in a way that is still understandable.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The line in the sand has been drawn.... which side are you on?

Any additional comments?

I actually picked up this book a few years ago at the library and I was distracted by other books; I couldn't get through it. I'm glad I found it in this form because it is truly enjoyable.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SR
  • 12-01-17

fantastic

I underestimated the narrator based off of the sample but he did a great story justice! This is so beautifully written, the patois feels like home. I love falling asleep to Nalo's books, it's like being read stories by my grandparents who have passed. The mysticism and playfulness is ancestral and makes me nostalgic. With that said, it sparked my imagination in so many moments, especially with the Haitian practices that I'm unfamiliar with. The orisha names are different here than in my culture so it was fun to force my mind to reorient.

This story is strikingly similar to Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, but was written far earlier and in my opinion is stronger in its politic. The protagonist is forced to come into her own power and self-understanding despite an abrupt separation from her teacher. She must fight the ultimate evil, which is a part of her own blood line, with the ultimate strength which is also within her lineage. It's poetic and gripping. "Never a dull moment" as an elder would say.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

except for the narrator

I love nalo Hopkinson! the story is really engaging. But why the male narrator for a story written by a woman about a woman?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Almost 5 stars

Any additional comments?

I think this story was really something special, even though throughout the first half of the book I wondered if this was the work of a talented, but then inexperienced author. I wondered this because the first half was marked by a lack of sensory detail. I like stories that put me in the setting and let me feel what is happening. The atmosphere here wasn't incredibly immersive, and also the author kept using the same figure of speech to describe character's emotional reactions again and again (everybody's always sucking their teeth in disgust, or sucking their teeth to show some other negative emotion, it gets weird). I thought the story skimped on detail fairly often, though not in a way that crippled it. Altogether, once it gets going this is a really cool story. It's culturally immersive and graceful and full of cool voodoo stuff. The ending was especially fitting and satisfying too. Worth the cash.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Island In The Donut Hole

Very interesting book full of creepy voodoo, magic and healing. This is a good tale of a girl transitioning to womanhood, going through some tough changes, and stepping into her grandmother's shoes to become the neighborhood healer.
A little political commentary, a little sex, a little abuse and torture - and a lot of peculiar characters, human and otherwise. Something for everyone.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

quite a tale!

This is a multilayered tale with interesting characters. At moments it gets graphically violent, so just brace yourself if you're sensitive. But well worth it! I loved seeing our folklore out and about in Toronto, dealing with contemporary diaspora issues. And Hopkinson's imagination and talent are on full show in this novel.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Canadian voodoo zombies

Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring is a tale of Caribbean voodoo and spirituality playing out in Toronto. Set in the near future, economic conditions have resulted in abandonment of downtown Toronto resulting in a lawless sector that is largely controlled by drug gangs. The main character is a young girl whose grandmother functions as a healer using traditional herbal regimes. She gets mixed up with the gang boss due to involvement with a young gang member. As she is drawn in, she begins to learn more about her past and becomes exposed to the Caribbean spirituality in greater depth as well as her relationship to the major power player. In the end, she must embrace the spirit world to survive.

While the bulk of the fantasy elements are focused on Caribbean spirits and zombies, there's the intriguing backstory of human transplantation declining in popularity in favor of xenotransplantation that serves as the impetus for the brown girl's predicament. The wholesale abandonment of Toronto is probably the most far-fetched fantasy element in the story.

The narration is superb with excellent Caribbean accents without being overwhelming or difficult to follow. Character distinction is quite respectable and the pace is well aligned with the plot.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Simply loved it all

The novel was amazingly magical, exciting and supernatural. The folklore characters are spot-on and intriguing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

loved this book!!!

this was a wonderful book very well written. The narrator was awesome and brought all the characters to life and brought this book to life. Will definitely read more by this author and hopefully get more books narrated by the narrator. Awesome awesome book!