Into the Mouth of the Lion – A.B. Kyazze

Another book from someone I know. Amelia is a member of my writing group but this story I had not read anything of, before it was published. Although I know Amelia to be a good writer, I was sceptical as to whether this was a story for me. I needn’t have worried.

At the start of the story, Lena, a young photographer, flies out to Angola since her estranged sister has gone missing. This is at the end of the Angolan civil war and her sister has been working there as an aid worker. Lena is inexperienced and not welcome by her sister’s team. 

I was at first a little annoyed with Lena’s naivety but I found myself drawn into the situation in the country and the characters who are so richly described. I rarely read books set in Africa and confess to having a very limited knowledge of the continent but Amelia has found a way of describing this world while making it blend with the story. 

At the heart of this story is the relationship between Lena, her sister and their mother. I liked how clues to their relationships to each other trickled through as the here and now story evolved. I especially liked the chapters where it isn’t clear who the speaker is. That is exceptionally well written. As with any family, there are secrets. In this case both in the past and in the present.

Although a war-torn country isn’t a setting I would be keen to read about, I found it unusual and that it really added something to this story. It isn’t just a backdrop but it has shaped and continue to shapes the characters and plays an important role in how things evolve. 

I think I would have been impressed with Amelia’s knowledge of the conflict and of the country, even if I didn’t know that she must have drawn inspiration from her own experiences as a war photographer, but it’s clear that her experiences have also helped her create these characters, to make them come alive on the page.

Even if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I really recommend giving this novel a go.

For anyone who want to know more about the book and the author, here’s a link to an interview: https://www.whisperingstories.com/the-writing-life-of-a-b-kyazze/

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