This is a Nkisi, a fetish statue used in parts of Africa to summon ancestor spirits to your aid. You enact its power by licking then bashing in nails.
A Nkisi statue turns up as an Artefact of Power in The Dreamer Falls, the third book of The Secret of the Tirthas, which is now in its first draft and will be out this summer.
In the book Lizzie’s sense of duty once again gets the better of her as she heads through a tirtha into the Cameroonian jungle to rescue hapless village boy Thomas Bennett. In a cruel twist of fate Thomas has become the new wild boy of the woods (or rather rainforest), following his accidental discovery of the tirtha.
The quest to find Thomas tests Lizzie to the full as she encounters gruelling dangers, both physical and psychological. She’s accompanied by two teenagers, Zuri and Malika, although whether Zuri with his exacting, often cruel intentions is a help or hindrance is difficult to tell.
And only when she’s at her furthermost point from home, deep in the jungle, does she once again find herself up against the deadliest of foes.
Which is where the Nkisi might or might not come in helpful.