Book Review: Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

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29 July 2022

By Michaela Makusha

Bolu Babalola had me hooked with Love in Colour in 2020, a beautiful anthology of love stories and she came back in 2022 with a fun romantic novel that I pre-ordered the first chance I could get.

Honey & Spice revolves around Kiki and Malakai, two students at Whitehall university, a fictional British university.

Kiki Banjo hosts a radio show, ‘Brown Sugar Show’ in which she doles out brutally honest advice to the Whitehall university students. But she’s closed off emotionally, especially to love because of her past.

Then there is Malakai Korede. Malakai is an aspiring filmmaker who is handsome, cocky and has all the girls of Whitehall panting after him. After Kiki calls him out for being a wasteman on her show, it lands him heaps of trouble with the female population. And then Kiki’s favourite professor pairs them up on their academic projects.

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But eventually, they need to get together romantically to save their social and professional lives. What could possibly go wrong?

Fake dating and enemies to lovers? Two of my favourite romantic tropes intertwined with a black female protagonist who has puns for days and great taste in music? This book was written for me to read.

It explores so many nuances of Black British culture and the diaspora. On almost every page I found myself laughing at how familiar everything was, especially the experiences of being in a majority white institution. Aminah, Kiki’s right-hand woman is hilarious and we all need that friend who is well dressed and calls you out.

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A big feature that makes this novel so enjoyable is the author’s writing style. I love Babalola’s writing style  –  everything she writes is so fluid and poetic. Even the verbal sparring is quick and snappy which adds to the growing tension between Malaki and Kiki rather than merely showing their growing attraction. Every sentence keeps you hanging on.

Honey & Spice is a fun, romantic and emotional read that you cannot put down once you start reading. The most exciting news is that there will be a sequel! I’m also hoping for a TV adaptation because it is what we deserve.


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