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Once in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newly born butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”


BOOK REVIEW: Mists of The Serengeti

Leylah Attar

RATING:

This is what it looks like when you wander somewhere between the sand and stardust, and meet a piece of yourself in someone else.

Great books have the power to move us, transfix us, transport us light years beyond the familiarity of our ordinary lives, and make us wish we could stay there forever, but once in a blue moon, we find that illusive one-of-a-kind story that speaks to our hearts too and changes us irreversibly. One of the most beautiful, poignant, and breathtaking stories I have ever read, this book not only embodies the consistently high calibre of Leylah Attar’s writing, or its timeless elegance, but the transcendent quality of her prose takes the reader’s soul on a journey like no other, leaving us gasping for air in its aftermath. Set against the vibrant backdrop of the African Serengeti, this extraordinary love story is also a compelling and, at times, sobering reminder of life’s many bittersweet moments, and of how much hope can be found among the ashes of one’s heart.

How many times do we pass people on the street, whose lives are intertwined with ours in ways that remain forever unknown? How many ways are we tied to a stranger by fragile, invisible threads that bind us all together?

In a family of travellers, all Rodel Emerson ever wanted was to put down some roots. Having spent most of her life travelling around the world, she grew into a woman who yearned for an anchor in life, for four walls of her own that she would call home, but just as she is about to settle down, her sister’s tragic death suddenly takes her from the quaint English countryside to the wide expanses of northern Tanzania. What begins as a quick trip to collect her sister’s belongings, however, soon becomes Rodel’s last opportunity to understand a sister she loved dearly, and to fulfill her last wish. A wish that leads her to the doorstep of a man who’s lost just as much, if not more.

I wanted to see the places she’d mentioned, understand the magic that drove her, find some resolution in the place that had claimed her.

The Serengeti might be home to the greatest concentration of wildlife in Africa, but to Jack Warden, it is the only home he’s ever known. Ever since a tragic incident claimed the life of his only child, however, Jack’s existence has become nothing more than a colourless pit of unsurmountable grief, the guilt from not being able to save her slowly crushing his soul into a million pieces.

“In a thousand lives, I would die a thousand deaths to save her. Over and over and over again.”

Forever bound to one another by a single moment in time and the sorrow in their hearts, Rodel and Jack find themselves on a mission of recovery and hope, a brave, inspiring journey of the human spirit pitted against unfathomable evil. And somewhere at the foothills of the mighty Kilimanjaro, two lost souls find solace and love in each other’s arms, knowing all too well that those stolen moments of passion would always be all they would ever get.

…he was more royal, more magnificent than all the jeweled kings in all the fairy tales because he walked in real life—mortal, vulnerable, broken, jaded, but still a king—with the heart of a lion, and the soul of an angel.

As their mission takes an unexpected turn, putting them within arm’s reach of a dangerous, shadowy world they never expected to encounter, they learn to depend on each other for emotional support, and begin dreading the day they would have to say goodbye. But Rodel and Jack would always belong to two very different places until their hearts learned that home is no longer a place for either of them.

“I want reckless. I want mindless, ruthless, heedless. I want to be swept up in madness. I want your passion. I want your pain. I want you to tell me that you can’t bear the thought of me leaving, that it feels like you can’t breathe, that you want me, that you’ll miss me.”
His gaze traveled over my face for a long, still beat before falling on my neck. “I can’t bear the thought of you leaving,” he said to the mark his teeth had left there. “I stop breathing every time I think about it.”

Atmospheric, deeply reflective, and with a plethora of endearing secondary characters to lighten the mood of the book, this startling, unforgettable love story begs to be consumed in a single sitting, and is so unexpected in its execution, I still struggle to process it all. A magnificent addition to an already impressive body of work, with this book, Leylah Attar proves to be truly a master of her craft.

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Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.

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Natasha

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