Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Saucy Readers, I have a very first world problem going on. There are just too many great books released at one time, from some of my favorite authors. Which makes it tough to read and review everything, to enjoy each book's perfection before I have to move on to the next amazing thing, forgetting the details of the last amazing thing. Do you feel bad for me now, Saucy Reader, or just want to throw tomatoes at me?

I've known for over a year that the final installment in Mac's Fever arc would land Martin Luther King day weekend, which is mid-January. I've also been stalking Leylah Attar's social media feeds since the moment I finished Paper Swan and needed more from this amazing new author. When it was finally announced that her next book, Mists of the Serengeti, would release at the end of January, I knew from experience that I would still be completely wasted by the Fever world when Mists hit, and I was fearful that if I was lucky enough to land an Advance Copy it would be right in the time when I was still living vividly in the Fever world. I was right on all counts. Mists hit my eReader three days after I got home from New Orleans, while I was still reading Feversong. Woe is me.

I finally finished Feversong and got my head clear enough to start Mists of the Serengeti on its release day, some two weeks after it landed on my reader and I am still so bummed that I couldn't read it free and clear of the other amazing book, because they both deserved my undivided attention and adoration. Mists of the Serengeti was a stunning epic romance written in some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read. It was an absolutely perfect romance book. Come with me through the jump and I'll tell you all about why every lover of romance novels needs to pick this one up, yesterday. Spoiler free, of course.




Mists of the Serengeti was amazing. I don't think I'm usually drawn to grand, sweeping romances, but I will follow Leylah Attar anywhere, and that is where she took me this time. I loved every single page of it. The adventure was wonderful, the characters so rich I felt like I was in the room with them, a part of their conversations, and the love story stunning. 
As we drove into the shimmering blue of the hazy horizon, I caught a glimpse of his soul. So many pieces of him had been fed to the lions. And as dark and bitter as it had turned him, he was a gladiator for standing where I would have surely fallen. 

Following a terrorist attack that destroys a mall, killing many, Jack and Rodel end up working together. Jack, a Tanzanian coffee farmer, lost his daughter in the attack, while Rodel, an English teacher, lost her sister. Rodel needs help getting several children to safety across the vast plains of the Serengeti, and Jack is the only one who can help her. Through their adventures to collect the children and whisk them to safety, Jack and Rodel bond over their shared losses and fight their palpable attraction, knowing that their lives are worlds apart. 
I witnessed, for the first time, how someone can radiate pure strength from a place of pure pain. Sometimes the most heroic thing we can do is fight the battle within and just emerge on the other side. Because it's not just one battle, one time. We do it over and over again, as long as we breathe, as long as we live. 

Rodel and Jack's journeys take them across sweeping landscapes, from village to village, two grieving people finding solace in one another, sharing their memories of loved ones lost, learning to go on without them. Their's is precisely the kind of saga that sweeps the reader away, starting with shared broken hearts, learning to put those hearts back together again, rooting for a broken couple to heal each other, even knowing that it will end in yet another goodbye. This is the kind of book that unfolds like the very best dramatic romance movies, images of stunning vistas clear in the reader's mind as the characters have harrowing adventures and fall in love, slowly and then all at once. 
"Remember this." He brushed the hair off my neck and breathed a kiss there. "When you're curled up with your books on a rainy afternoon in England, remember how you painted my world with your colors. Remember your rainbow halo." 

But what sets a Leylah Attar book apart from pretty much every other book ever is her gorgeous prose. Her imagery is absolutely stunning every single time, so when the setting is the Serengeti, it's basically a given that she's going to knock my socks off with her beautiful word pictures. There were so many times when I had to just stop and take in the beauty in this book.
And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I found the elusive magic I had glimpsed only between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newborn 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.


Leylah Attar has become one of a very few authors that I will buy automatically, without any idea what the book is going to be about. This is only her third novel, but each one has blown me away with its gorgeous prose, its characters who burrow into my heart, and its lessons that I know I will carry with me always. Mists of the Serengeti is a book that I will carry with me always. 
Taleenoi olngisoilechashur. We are all connected.  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?

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