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The Witchdoctor's Bones
(Published April 2014)
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APRIL 2010
OCT 2011
SPRING 2013 

APRIL 2014
Photo: Bradford Dunlop

​A Suspense-filled Journey That Won't Soon Be Forgotten
A cast of intriguing characters is thrust together for an African adventure. What results is far more perilous than anyone could have imagined. Against the beautiful backdrop of South Africa and Namibia, danger and death lurk around every bend in the road, as the trip of a lifetime becomes the holiday from hell. Within the pages of The Witchdoctor's Bones multiple mysteries emerge, as Lisa de Nikolits takes the reader on a suspense-filled journey that won't soon be forgotten." – Liz Bugg, author of the Calli Barnow Series

A Masterful Job of Drawing The Reader In
Put together an international group of travelers, each with their own secrets, in a bus touring Africa and you have the makings of a very suspenseful tale! Lisa de Nikolits does a masterful job of drawing the reader in and not letting go until the last delicious word! Set against an exotic backdrop of Africa and Namibia, this story is a great read! 
– Joan O'Callaghan, editor and contributing author of Thirteen

You Won't Be Able To Tear Yourself Away
Lisa de Nikolits has done it again. This time she shines her characteristically unflinching but loving and humour-filled gaze on the land of her birth, deftly weaving Africa’s ancient witchcraft practices, superstitions, breathtaking beauty and disturbing struggles into the journey of a group of modern-day tourists — whose motives for coming on the “trip of a lifetime” are in some cases highly suspect. The myriad conflicts between the characters are handled so subtly and the physical terrain of southern Africa painted so vividly, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from your own seat on the bus, even as the body count begins to rise.
– Brenda Missen, author of Tell Anna She’s Safe

The Tension Ratchets Higher and Higher
Take sixteen travellers from around the world, gather them on a tour bus bumping its way along the rough roads of South Africa and Namibia, add jealousy, sexual obsession, secrets, violence, magic, poison, mental breakdown and the breathtaking arrogance of tourists treating Africa (and Africans) as their playthings, and you have Lisa de Nikolits’ psychological thriller, The Withdoctor’s Bones. As the travellers and their guides slowly reveal their true (and sometimes twisted) natures, the tension ratchets higher and higher in a narrative that draws deeply on African lore and history, with echoes of Christie’s classic Ten Little Indians, Katherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales– Terri Favro, author of The Proxy Bride

A Gripping Read That Draws You Into the Heart of Darkness
What I really enjoy about Lisa de Nikolits is her refusal to be pinned down to a particular genre. Besides the fact that The Witchdoctor’s Bones is so different from all her other novels, it’s also incredibly difficult to classify it in its own right. Part travelogue, part psychological thriller, part sociological and anthropological study, The Witchdoctor’s Bones entertains, educates and fascinates all at the same time. It’s a gripping read that draws you into the heart of darkness, both in the literal and figurative sense; the action takes place in untamed Africa, but it’s the darkness in the human heart that de Nikolits portrays with such chilling precision. It’s a page-turner that will keep you biting your nails right up to the bitter end.  Bianca Marais, Musings of a Wannabe Writer

Excursion Into the Nastier Regions of Human Desire
In The Witchdoctor’s Bones, Lisa de Nikolits drives a busload of seemingly
 normal souls into the heart of Africa, revealing the baggage they've dragged
 along, piece by sweaty piece. Against a backdrop of Bushmen tales and
 geography she clearly loves, de Nikolits creates by turns a lusty dusty romp
 and excursions to the nastier regions of human desire. Passions both
 wandering and misplaced pull the story ever deeper down a bumpy road. Well
 worth the trip!
– Rob Brunet, author of Stinking Rich

Romance, Suspense and Serial Killers
The Witchdoctor’s Bones follows the well-established structure of strangers on a journey revealing their lives, secrets and fears as they travel. From The Canterbury Tales to Then There Were None this story telling framework gives writers a strong form to work with.

In The Witchdoctor’s Bones, we join a disparate group of travelers on a bus tour from Cape Town, South Africa to Fort Namutoni, Namibia. As they travel, tempers and passions flair. Death follows increasing tension as the novel progresses.

Lisa handles a large cast well, each of the tourists has a clear personality, motives become clear and then vague as more layers of their lives are peeled back. She also conveys a real sense of place, the heat, the dust, the humor and bus ride itself.

In conveying so many details about the tour the book verges on a travel guide but the information is parceled out in digestible portions and never overwhelms the story as it unfolds.

If romance, suspense and serial killers under the African sun are your cup of tea this book is for you.

–Duncan Armstrong, writer, poet, spoken-word performer
Cover artwork by Wopko Jensma

The Dark Side of the Soul and The Healing Power of Love 
"Fascinating South African lore comes to life in The Witchdoctor's Bones. De Nikolits gives us more than an intriguing mystery - a look at the dark side of the human soul and the healing power of love." – D.J. McIntosh, national bestselling author of The Witch of Babylon and The Book of Stolen Tales.
Seethes With Peril... Stripped of The Niceties and Rigours of Polite Society
Imagine you've signed up for a low-budget safari in South Africa and find yourself cheek-to-cheek on a battered van with the most bizarre travellers you've ever met – except in some ways they do remind you of characters you've encountered in a late-night screening of ‘Moulin Rouge.’ You know, the kinds of people you don't naturally gravitate toward but whom you're unable to ignore. You're drawn in. Illicit love, rejected love, misfired love, machinations of all sorts, and all involving characters of dubious integrity and (in some cases) of questionable sanity. Such are the players in Lisa de Nikolits's, The Witchdoctor's Bones, who've embarked on a journey that seethes with peril (physical and psychological), and not solely because of the wild creatures roaming the bush veld. 

By planting her characters in the untamed landscape of the South African wilderness, de Nikolits has stripped away the niceties and rigours of polite society. Nothing is familiar. Nor do people even speak the same language. Tour leader Jono whispers in his Khosa tongue, only to be drowned out by the harsh words of Stepfan the German. One imagines sweet-talking Kate, the Canadian, is the closest thing you get to a heroine in The Witchdoctor's Bones, as proof that the best woman will be left standing.

As safari guide Joso cautions his guests early in the novel, "This is a land of heat and dust and you will wonder how anybody survived? – Doug O’Neill, Executive Editor, Canadian Living

Presenting The Witchdoctor's Bones at The Ontario Library Association's Annual Super Conference 2014
From top left: At the Literary Press Group booth, with Lisa Dalrymple, presenting The Witchdoctor's Bones in one minute and 50 seconds, the massive convention hall filled with booths, me with Tanya Snyder of the Literary Press Group, me with Rosemary McCracken and Dorothy McIntosh, with Evan Munday and my gothic alter-ego portrait. 
Reading from The Witchdoctor's Bones at the Sisters In Crime, 2014
Reading from The Witchdoctor's Bones at the Sisters in Crime, Toronto Branch. From top left: with Joan O'Callaghan. Bottom left: Lyn Murphy, Melodie Campbell, Rosemary McCracken, Joan O'Callaghan and Madeleine Harris-Callway
A Suspense-filled Page-turner That Will Bewitch You
Beautiful, sexy, exciting, mysterious, dangerous and twisted. Those words can be used to describe not only the alluring locations depicted in Lisa de Nikolits’ thrilling novel The Witchdoctor’s Bones, but also some of the eclectic characters fatefully traveling together on a tour bus through South Africa and Namibia. A suspenseful page-turner that will bewitch you until the end.

Warning: You may get hungry reading this book. Some of the exotic dishes described in this novel sound so enticing you may want to risk being on a bus-load of crazy people to sample them.
– Alexander Galant, author of ‘Depth of Deception (A Titanic Murder Mystery)

​The Witchdoctor's Bones

In The Witchdoctor’s Bones, a group of tourists gather. Some have come to holiday, others to murder. Canadian Kate ditches her two-timing boyfriend and heads to Africa on a whim, hoping for adventure, encountering the unexpected and proving an intrepid adversary to mayhem.

The tour is led by Jono, a Zimbabwean historian and philosopher, and the travelers follow him from Cape Town into the Namib desert, learning ancient secrets of the Bushmen, the power of witchcraft and superstition, and even the origins of Nazi evil.

A ragged bunch ranging from teenagers to retired couples, each member of the group faces their own challenges as third world Africa pits against first world greed, murderous intent and thwarted desire. The battle between goaded vanity and frustrated appetite culminates in a surprising conclusion with shocking twists. 

With the bones of consequence easily buried in the shifting sands, a holiday becomes a test of moral character.

Unpredictable, flawed, fun-loving, courageous, bizarre, weak, kind-hearted and loathsome; the individuals in this novel exist beyond the page and into real life. Seamlessly weaving history and folklore into a plot of loss, passion and intrigue, the reader is kept informed and entertained as this psychological thriller unfolds.
Excerpt from The Witchdoctor's Bones

“Yes, they certainly gave Kleine Skok the heebie jeebies.” Richard stretched his feet towards the fire. “Poor fellow, he had this godawful lump of dried up rabbit’s blood and I asked him if that was something a witchdoctor would use and he nearly shot right off the mountain. I felt quite dreadful for asking.”

Jono laughed, and drank his beer. “Yes, I can imagine that frightened him in a big way. More than six hundred people have been killed in the last ten years in Gauteng alone, because they were accused of being witches, so even the mention of such a thing is frightening for many people.”

“How can you cure a person of being a witch?” Kate asked.

“If you think you have a witch,” Jono explained, “then you must call an isanusi, a professional who can smell out witches and get rid of them. In some places, Zimbabwe for instance, people there believe that witches ride hyenas at night, and if you spot a person traveling on the back of a hyena, then that person is a witch.” 

“I hate hyenas,” Marika muttered and she gave a shiver. 
“They’re evil; creatures of the devil.” 

“There are many kinds of witches,” Jono continued, “one of which is the night-witch who is invisible during the daytime but then at night, changes into an animal; a crocodile, a hyena, a lion, a wolf maybe. They can change innocent people into animals also. Now, if you are poisoned by a witch, then you die and your spirit becomes a slave to the witch. Night-witches devour human bodies, dead or alive during the night and they can been seen flying at night, with fire coming out of their bottoms.”

“They fart fire?” Mia found this hysterically funny and the rest of the group joined in, laughing. “Oh lord, fire-farting witches, knock my bleedin’ socks off.”

 “Isn’t it true,” Helen queried when the laughter died down, “that Western doctors found a high correlation between schizophrenia and epilepsy in individuals who have been accused of being witches?”

Jono nodded. “Which would explain the hallucinations they have,” he said. “And some of them have also been found to be manic-depressives and schizophrenics. But if you ask me, this does not mean that Western medicine has any kind of increased knowledge in this area, it’s just that you call your witches by a lot of medical-sounding names and find different ways to treat them.”

“Touché.” Richard exclaimed.
Blog Tour in July

Exciting blog tour planned with with Partners In Crime - more to come!
Events Calendar (with more to come)

• 17 October, 7pm, Makin' A Racket at The Red Rocket on the Danforth

• 17 September, reading at Round with Chizine Reading Series

• 23rd September, 7pm, reading at The Annette Street LIbrary with Alexander Galant, Liz Worth and Rob Brunet.

• 13-16 November, Bouchercon, Long Beach California (including a reading at Gatsby Books on the evening of Wednesday 12th November)
I took a trip to Namibia, which was the catalyst for the novel, The Witchdoctor's Bones. Here are some pictures from that trip. Click link to take you to Pinterest:
The Inaugural Reading of The Witchdoctor's Bones! With the Crime Writers of Canada, at the Arthur Ellis Shortlist Event, at Indigo at the Manulife Centre - a wonderful evening! 

Reading at The Raw Sugar Café, courtesy Octopus Books, 26th April. A lovely afternoon in Ottawa!
Reading at Night Out With Authors at the Tranzac Club in Toronto,28th April, another marvelous evening!
A wonderful evening! With a strange anecdote: On my way to get a sandwich for dinner, I saw a bookmark lying on the sidewalk. (Now, bear in mind, I am never over at this part of town). I bent down to pick it up only to find it was one of my bookmarks, from two books ago! Very strange really!
Wonderful launch for The Witchdoctor's Bones at The Supermarket, Kensington. It was a truly great evening!
Blog post mentions:
How to Survive A Public Reading:
Jason E Hodges, The Dirt Worker's Journal: "I would romanticize about the writers who came before me like The Lost Generation or The Beats. I would daydream about their interaction with one another and pondered if I would ever be part of something so special. Who would be my friends in the world of writing once I was finally published…"

Dee Holmes, on the launch of The Witchdoctor's Bones: "" It’s no surprise that she is such a fantastic story-teller." 

Mayank Bhatt on Generally About Books: Why Africa?:
Launch photos: Bradford Dunlop

Witchdoctor earrings by Nici Shipway,

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nikolits

The Witchdoctor's Bones

by Lisa de Nikolits

Giveaway ends June 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
A Gripping Book
The Witchdoctor's Bones passed the bus test--I read it all the way home from Toronto to Kingston and then stayed up till 1:30 am finishing it (and was a wreck the next day). The sixteen people on the bus are very carefully chosen, and create a suitable amount of conflict and humour, welcome in such a gripping book.
Kate is a very likeable heroine! And she does provide a moral compass for the book--so that I finished it with vision cleared--and that doesn't always happen in a thriller. Elizabeth Greene, author of under stories

Tight Narrative Control
The Witchdoctor's Bones is a riveting, rollicking ride of a book, what a thriller, and an unusual one (because of the setting), it would make a great movie I think. perhaps a movie person will read and see it and take it one day..? i can imagine that. Anyway, it's thrilling and sexy and nasty and interesting, and has tight narrative control (the main character's voice, which is very clear and distinct). Dawn Promislow, author of Jewels and Other Stories

Masterfully Unsettling and Unpredictable
The Witchdoctor's Bones is absolutely gripping. Lisa de Nikolits excels in artfully alternating from playful tourist banter to plot twists that are masterfully unsettling and unpredictable. This book was quite different from an earlier de Nikolits novel, A Glittering Chaos, but in both I loved the subtle exploration of who we are when we are away from home, the ways in which vacations can change who we are and how we see ourselves and the capacity for travel to broaden our perspectives on the world around us--if we are open to that potential. Also, if you have a chance to hear Lisa read live, I recommend that too! – Evadne Macedo, writer in Descant

Loved It!
I just wanted to let you know that I literally just put down my copy of the The Witchdoctor's Bones and it was absolutely fabulous (although I have to say I'm dying to know what Kate's plan was for her and Andre!) You kept me guessing until the very end - it was like a fantastic murder mystery party taking place on a travelling tour bus, everyone knew something about someone else and I just couldn't figure out how everything added up, until you wanted me to know that is - spectacular!! I really enjoyed it and I would love to read some of your other books! I will look for them at Chapters! – Anna Redman
Reading at Makin' a Racket at the Red Rocket. At the Red Rocket Café on the Danforth, Toronto
From top left: Poet Adam Abbas, Chuck Crabbe reading from his book As A Thief In The Night, poet Norman Allan Bethune, playwright and MC Sandra Cardinal.
A Great Read - Not To Be Missed!
Sixteen travelers embark on a voyage into South Africa's hinterland. Although each has different motivations for the journey, and some of those are strange, the trip begins in a light hearted enough fashion. As the trip continues, the harsh yet beautiful landscape, racial prejudices, mystic beliefs, jealousies and social group dynamics, combine to spiral into darkness. A great read - not to be missed! D.J. McIntosh, The Witch of Babylon, The Book of Stolen Tales
The reading got a lovely review in Centretown Buzz, a local Ottawa newspaper.
Niagara On The Lake Public Library Book Fair. In association with the Niagara Literary Festival
From top left: Cathy Marie Buchanan reading from her novel,The Painted Girls. Toronto Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke holds his copy of A Glittering Chaos. S.E.Campbell with her book, Elizabeth's Quest. Next, Trudi Down from The Book Band, Michael Callaghan from Exile Editions with Jordan Fry of The Niagara Literary Festival. Hermine Steinberg of the Niagara On The Lake Writers' Circle.
Bloody Words, Murder Mystery Crime Conference Toronto, June 2014
We all had a great time at Books With Legs - we got to strut our stuff on the catwalk, wearing over-sized book covers! It was a lot of fun!
The event started with a wonderful cheese and wine reception.
Panels featured highly acclaimed authors including D.J. McIntosh, Cathy Astolfo, Craig Davidson, International Guest of Honour, Michael Jecks, Maureen Jennings, Elizabeth Duncan, Vicki Delany (Canadian Gues of Honour) and many more. I signed books at the Sisters In Crime table and at the Crime Writers of Canada.The banquet on Saturday evening was festive and fun-filled and a very jolly time was had by all!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nikolits

The Witchdoctor's Bones

by Lisa de Nikolits

Giveaway ends August 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
Enter the contest and you could win two bus-trip themed books as well as a gift basket of delicious South African goodies to accompany you on the ride! 

One copy of The Witchdoctor's Bones as well as one copy of the award-winning West of Wawa, and a gift basket of South African chocolates, biscuits and other delights.
Reading at The Niagara Literary Arts Festival, At the Fine Grind Café, June 2014
Enter this contest on Goodreads! (Scroll down for a review contest - you could win!)
Post a review of The Witchdoctor's Bones and you could win!
Poets, musicians, authors and more! We had a great evening!
Really Compelling, Perfect Example of 'Setting as Character'
So I was taking a coffee break and I picked up The Witchdoctor's Bones, which was next on my tbr list, and decided to read for 10 minutes to get a taste of it. When I raised my head, I was on page 116! Holy smokes, that was a long coffee break :) Great fun, Lisa! Really compelling - I can feel the dust of Africa, and am thoroughly enjoying it.
UPON COMPLETION: NEVER have I read a book with such a wonderful sense of place! I can *smell* Africa...taste it. Feel like I've been there. As an example of "setting as character", it's perfect.Your love for Africa - with all its faults - is clear and beautiful. I was rooting for Kate all the way through.
MC — acclaimed author, whose current position in the Canadian Publishing industry prohibits her from posting reviews

A Truly Wonderful Accomplishment, Goes for the Jugular
I have enjoyed all of Lisa de Nikolits' books. Each book gets better and better........BUT nothing prepared me for this latest adventure!!! Amazing, captivating from the start of this crazy adventure!!!! The multiple characters are all sooo different and diverse, I loved learning more and more about their past and how it affected this story!!!l Lisa takes us through a remarkable journey of old legends of Africa , beautiful descriptions of every campsite they visited, never boring, real accounts of every destination on our "vacation "like noooo other!!!!' Throw in some really shocking twists that go right for the jugular and this book is a first class bestseller!!! Congrats, can't wait for more!!!!! — Lynn Bunker

Great Opening Chapters
I have started reading The Witchdoctor's Bones! Wow -- Great opening chapters. Very well written. — Donna Carrick, author and publisher

Finished The Witchdoctor's Bones last night.
Loved it. Kind of like Agatha Christie meets Marlin Perkins and again a cast of characters most of whom you wouldn't want living next to you. Thanks for another great read. — Syd Bradley

A Story Dissecting Darkness Alongside An Exploration of Liberation and Personal Freedom
What an extraordinary accomplishment this marvellous book is. I read it straight through. Lisa de Nikolits' stories are all so unique, yet they form a very distinct body of work ... of huge achievement and integrity.
Macabre and fascinating complexities ... interspersed with yummy meals ... the cheesy pasta and ice cream topped with chocolate ... and your tale encompasses nourishment of body and soul ... what awesome, scenic imagery ... the sun being likened to a kiln ... and dried, broken ground becoming puzzle pieces ... an analogy also, to the pieces of story being a puzzle, slowly being pieced together ... deep-delver of psyches ... obsessions, rhythms and rhymes ... investigating and exploring the deranged ... the questionable ... the suspicious ... debating conscious and unconscious interactions ... dissecting intentions ... some dubious some romantic.  
Encapsulated in a bus journey adventure from Cape Town to Namibia ... yet exceeding these geographical African boundaries in terms of universal human responses and concepts, as these travellers reveal and conceal themselves ... a shifting balance of control and power ... instincts within communications ... a story functioning on many profound levels ... examining, perplexing and bewildering reactions ... scorn ... neediness ... enigma and ingenuity entwined ... myths and magic ... race and culture ... ritual and gender ... murder ... bonding ... a story dissecting darkness alongside an exploration of liberation and personal freedom ...  — Shirley McDaniel, Artist

A Great Psychological Thriller/Mystery
This is a very pleasurable read not in the least because of the charm of the African background and setting of the story.
There is a lot of unbelievable twisted mayhem taking place in just under two weeks, with an interesting if unlikely gathering of odd people leading to a number of strange and fatal events happening. I love the fact that each character is fascinating, the personal background is revealed in the ongoing story line, as well as the character developments throughout the story.  
It’s not so much the suspense, despite the twists and turns the story takes, but the quality of storytelling and the author’s ability to draw the reader in that made it such a great read. It’s a great psychological thriller/mystery with African folklore thrown in to top it of. Grab it for a Summer read, you won’t regret it :-) — Hotchpotch: book blogger and reviewer

Murder, Mysteries and Mayhem!
I really enjoyed this book! This story was a great mix of – touring South Africa, murder mysteries and mayhem, and a total zany cast of characters. This book kept me guessing all the way through. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, I was wrong. I was right on a few things, but they were only the things the author wanted you to know.
This book starts out really well and just keeps going all the way to the great ending. There is so much happening in here you don't have a moment to get bored. I thought the writing was excellent. I would definitely like to read another by this great author.
The character development was very good. There were a LOT of characters but I had no trouble keeping them all straight because the author did such a fantastic job. One thing I really liked was that you got to go into the head of a madman and see what he was planning all along. This part kind of reminded me of the movie "Mr. Brooks" with Kevin Costner.
Secrets, secrets, everyone has secrets! There are so many little mysteries to figure out. And so many little romances (and almost romances).