by Julia Ember
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: April 21st 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.
Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.
I scanned the earth, looking for snapped branches and flattened grass. Once off the path, the plants grew too thick for me to see the chimera’s tracks from horseback, but I didn’t dare dismount again. If we stumbled upon the creature, the last place I wanted to be was on the ground. Elikia trudged through the thick foliage, shaking her head as mosquitos buzzed around her nostrils. Behind me, the Dyers swatted at insects on each other’s backs.
A deep rumble shook the ground beneath our horses’ hooves. My heart froze, and I turned in my saddle to face a moss-covered outcrop. Staring down at us from above, the chimera licked her front paws and stretched out in the sun, enormous belly bulging with meat. Her snake-headed tail continued to feed as she rested, gulping down dark strips of red and gray flesh from the tattered elephant carcass lying beside her.
A few hundred feet away, the elephant’s herd milled about in the trees, sadly waiting to venerate their friend’s skeleton once the huge cat had finished her meal.
“Where’s my sketchbook?” Suzette whispered to her husband. “Can you get it out of your saddlebag?”
I shook my head at Paul before he could climb down. As much as I would have loved to shove a drawing of the chimera in Oswe’s smug face, the last thing we needed was to pique the creature’s interest by dismounting.
Paul’s horse stamped at the ground, trying to shake the bugs off his legs.
The chimera’s purple eyes snapped open. Her pupils dilated with interest, and she sniffed at the air. The snake tail hissed and a low, rocky growl formed in the great cat’s throat. Her lips parted, revealing yellow, stained canines each the length of my index finger.