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Review: In the Shadow of Ruin by Tony Debajo

I received an eARC of this from the author. Thank you to Tony Debajo. This hasn’t influenced my review in any way, my review is honest and unbiased.

Title: In the Shadow of Ruin
Author: Tony Debajo

Published: March 12th 2021
Publisher: Self-published

Genre: Action Adventure, Mythology, Historical Fiction

Age Range: Adult

Length: 362 pages

Synopsis red

King Jide Adelani has ruled the lands of the Yoruba in West Africa for many peaceful years, but now his kingdom is in turmoil and the cold grasp of death’s embrace is closing in around everything he holds dear.

Jide spent years garnering the respect and loyalty of the tribes in the hopes of uniting them into one cohesive empire when his half-brother, Prince Olise, returns from banishment to claim the throne as his own.

The offspring of a union between the late King Adeosi and the evil enchantress Ekaete, the bitter Olise has devoted the last decade to one purpose; to seize the throne and rule the kingdom. If he fails, he risks his name being erased from the history of the tribes.

With the support of his mother, a powerful witch whose name is whispered in fear across the lands of the tribes, the outcast Olise now seems unstoppable in achieving his goal.

Facing overwhelming military might and dark forces that he cannot comprehend, Jide must either choose to ignore the warnings of the gods, and seek help from those who also practice dark arts; or risk losing his kingdom.

Content Warning

Talk of rape & slaves

My Thoughts red

It’s a story of loss and grief, of pride and vengeance and the question of how far everyone is willing to go to get it.

Reasons to read In the Shadow of Ruin:

  1. Based on Ancient Nigerian folklore
  2. Loveable and complex, layered characters
  3. Multiple POVs where all are equally compelling

Another plus point is definitely the glossary at the beginning as well as the breakdown of who all the characters are and how their names are pronounced. That is always appreciated!

In the Shadow of Ruin is an action-packed book that is heavily inspired and based on ancient Nigerian folklore and I loved to see these stories through these characters. I’m a big fan of mythology and folklore and love when books take inspiration from them, especially when done so carefully.

Tonys writing style compliments this perfectly. It’s very to the point while still creating this atmospheric vibe that transports you right into the heart of the story and honestly doesn’t let you go. It reminds me a little of the stories of old in that regard. Being relatively clear but capturing ones attention so effortlessly.

“He could tell a storm was coming, he smelt it in the air and saw it in the way the clouds moved. He relished the rain to come; it had a purity about it, as if it could wash away all his doubts, all his ill intentions and quell his sense of guilt when hard choices had to be made.”

I was invested the moment we get introduced to King Jide on his way to the seers  and gets a warning from what appears to be a little girl. It was a fantastic way to introduce not only Jide’s character and his current situation with the brewing war but also give us a little backstory about his connection with the gods. Immediately intrigued! That was the moment I knew I would enjoy In the Shadow of Ruin.

It was so easy to feel for the different characters and I was always left wanting more after each chapter and POV ended. I can’t really tell you who was my favourite (Niran) because I loved them all so much (Niran especially though). It was so easy for me to connect with the characters and their journey, so easy to feel for them and since I’m most definitely a character-focused reader … well, I loved it. All of them are so unique and distinct, you could never confuse them even if you forgot whose chapter you are reading you’d recognize them. That is incredibly important for a novel with multiple POV. I need to know who I’m following even without the chapter title telling me, otherwise, they might just become one big mix in my head. Not happening here though!

The three brothers, Toju, Niran and Enitan, are the perfect example of it. I loved reading their chapters! In the beginning when the whole plot starts to unravel they each vow revenge but in their own unique ways, with their own reasonings and strategies.

Mini spoiler

It also a testament to the writing that I cared when people died that I literally only knew for a couple paragraphs … It shouldn’t have affected me that much but it did!


I loved how, even though the main conflict is a war, it is so much more. Simply because of all the various tribes and their beliefs and rituals and all the different gods. It influences how each character reacts and drives the plot forward. It also functions as a way to get to know the different characters more deeply and through a different lens. Each one is well developed, be it a main or side character. Everyone has their own flaws, thoughts and beliefs and inner conflicts and that creates an emotional depth that I love and it adds another layer to the main conflict of the novel.

Another thing I liked was seeing the different strategies in the battle and how they played out! Especially when they were interspersed with the flashbacks and backstory of Jide and Olise and their story. It created such a lovely pace, like a piece of music. Everything flowed together so well. I would have loved to be more involved in that though. We often see only the consequences of said strategies but it was still a part I quite enjoyed.

The battle scenes were brilliantly written and kept me on the edge of my seat and I had to stop myself from jumping ahead to find out how they would play out. It was incredible to read about the determination and resilience of some of the tribes!

This brings me to my last point. There is so much potential in the world and the characters! There are so many characters that I could see having their own book and story. I’d most certainly read them!

I recommend this to:

Everyone. Especially if you are looking for a historical and/or military fantasy. The world is incredibly rich and described so vividly. It gives you an inside into pre-colonial African Kingdoms, the culture, the tribes, the mythology and folklore!

The characters are complex and flawed and all very distinct. And they pull you into their story!

P.S. The ending both left me wanting more and being content. I adore these kind of endings! Can’t wait to read more though!

P.P.S. I would definitely recommend checking out Tonys Instagram or Website … there is incredible character art on there! Honestly stunning!! 

Author Bio red

tony debajo author photoTony Debajo was born in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. Shortly after, his parents moved to London, England, where he lived until he was six years old, then the family relocated to Nigeria. He lived there for 11 years before coming back to England. Tony studied Civil Engineering at the University of East London.

Tony’s inspiration for his novel comes from his time spent in Nigeria, where he became fascinated with the culture of his heritage.

His passion for reading was built on tales of ancient civilisations. He was enthralled by their way of life, beliefs, and cultures. He devoured any books he could lay his hands on about the Roman empire, the Mongol empire, ancient Greece, Nordic civilisations, but most of all the mythology associated with these people.

He soon realised that his country of origin was equally rich with traditions, tales of ancient gods and acts of heroism and decided to tap into that world.

Garnering tales and folklore remembered as a child, some of which would have been passed down through generations and typically told around fires, he began writing his debut novel, In the Shadow of Ruin, which grew as he wrote and will now be a series called The Fractured Kingdom. Tony hopes to bring to life his characters and set them free into the world.

Connect with Tony Debajo:
Website || Instagram || Twitter


Love, El red

5 thoughts on “Review: In the Shadow of Ruin by Tony Debajo

  1. I have been meaning to read more African mythology books this year and this one sounds straight up the alley. I will look out for this one.


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