Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl
ARC, Paperback, 264 pages
Chronicle Books LLC
November 18, 2011
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review
“Immediately compelling and action-packed, this carefully researched work of historical fiction introduces young readers to the childhood of the famous yet elusive Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo from England to North America. As in her debut novel, Prisoners in the Palace, MacColl propels readers into a multilayered story with an unforgettable heroine and evocative language that brings the backdrop of colonial British East Africa to life. A fascinating read for anyone with a thirst for adventure.”
Promise the Night was entirely different novel than I expected it to be. I expected a novel of a young girl growing up to become a famous aviator. However, while I did get a little of that, I also got something unexpected – an action/adventure novel set in the wild of Africa. There was a lot more adventure in Africa than there was about flight.
I was entirely caught up in the African adventure that marked Beryl’s early life. This was my first novel set here so I enjoyed seeing the different setting and entirely different way of life in the British colony. There were various trials and tribulations of life in the early colony which were very different than other colonization stories. I also thought that MacColl did an excellent job of depicting the Natives and their way of life. I enjoyed getting to know them all.
We get all of our snapshots of her life in the air through media clippings and journal entries peppered throughout the novel. The majority of the novel takes place when she is a very young girl learning to be a horse trainer on her father’s African ranch. These two segments were tied together through lessons that were learned through the narrative portion (during her childhood) that could be applied to whatever what happening in her life of flight in her 30’s. While I appreciated both storylines, I would have liked to have had a little more about how she got into flying, when her life had been thoroughly entrenched in horse training.
There were plenty of adventures to keep young adult readers engaged. There were also themes that they could connect with like running away and trouble with parents. A quick and easy read.
Author Michaela MacColl also has written Prisoners in the Palace and Nobody’s Secret. You can visit MacColl’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
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