I receive many requests from authors to review their books, however when I received a request from debut author Robert Mwangi to review his novel A Whisper In The Jungle - A Lion in America 1 set in Kenya, it arrived at the perfect time. I had plans to travel to Kenya within a few weeks and I just couldn't say no. I was already reading the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya and was keen to balance out my reading and A Whisper In The Jungle delivered that and more.
The story opens with two brothers James and Isaac who live in a mud hut with their mother in a village at the base of Mt. Kenya. James' brother goes missing in an event that haunts the villagers and from which James never truly recovers. Years go by and James continues to pursue his love of soccer and which takes him to boarding school in the city of Nairobi.
But while on holiday in his village, his childhood sweetheart goes missing in the same way as his brother and James enters the forrest to search for her and face his past, whatever the consequences.
I enjoyed A Whisper In The Jungle - A Lion in America 1, in particular the last third of the novel where James goes in search of the missing village girls. The danger, suspense and tension builds, and it is here that the reader is given a real insight into the African customs and old ways of village life. The author also paints a clear picture of the natural landscape and the creatures and wildlife within it.
There is a clear theme running throughout the novel of the customs and traditions of the past clashing with popular Western culture. The characters in the novel have different views and James makes an interesting observation on paying tribute to his ancestors but also doesn't have all the answers on the best way to incorporate tradition into the future. The author has done a great job of allowing the reader to consider all of the ideas and issues in an easy to digest manner without being preached to.
A Whisper In The Jungle - A Lion in America 1 - as the title suggests - is the first part of a two-part story, and there is a sequel to follow. It will be interesting to see where James goes next and how his story and development progresses, although a small part of me will miss his time in the village.
This book will appeal to fans of soccer, as soccer forms a large part of James' life at boarding school. It'll also appeal to anyone interested in Africa or those wanting to visit from the comfort of their lounge chair.
My rating = ****
P.S. Click here to read an interview between Carpe Librum and author Robert Mwangi.