I usually read very few short stories and novellas but have recently realised that I am missing out so I was delighted to accept a copy of ‘The Lion Hunter’ from its author Daniel Pembrey in return for an honest review. Published as a Kindle Single on 17th November 2015 ‘The Lion Hunter’ is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Journalist Andrew Riley is on honeymoon when he encounters a big game hunter, Jim Paterson. Intrigued and determined to write an article based on the hunting experience, Andrew gets more than he bargained for.
I was amazed by Daniel Pembrey’s writing. In only 51 pages he has constructed a tightly written, absorbing and exciting narrative worthy of much longer novels. The pace is rapid so that the reader’s heartbeat increases as does Andrew’s as events unfold. Even the characters are incredibly well developed. I think I was expecting a slightly sentimentalised view of Tanzania and the wildlife but the writing is so sophisticated and assured that there is no preaching a particular message, just brilliant story telling. What I particularly liked was the way often the most important elements of the story were presented with the most pared down prose, giving a vibrancy and immediacy to the reading.
The setting of Tanzania is instantly recognisable to those who’ve been there with the full range of senses woven into the narrative so that it is easy to hear the sounds, feel the heat and smell that particular aroma of the African countryside. I felt there was a visual element to the writing so that the experience was if I were watching a film rather than reading a short story. As I read, I was reminded of the quotation from Tennyson of ‘Nature, red in tooth and claw’.
Daniel Pembrey does not shy away from some of the difficult issues that Africa can throw up; from tribalism to terrorism, but he weaves these themes so cleverly that they help form the colourful tapestry of the overall story. His prose is flawless.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Lion Hunter’ and am looking forward to reading more of Daniel’s writing. If, like me, you usually find short stories unsatisfying and one dimensional, then read ‘The Lion Hunter’ and be prepared to have all your prejudices challenged and refuted. It’s a really wonderful read.