In Spite of Lions

Written by Scarlette Pike
Review by J. Lynn Else

Anna Kensington is taking charge of her life, fleeing from her privileged but stifling Victorian-era existence. She books passage on the first available ship. While boarding, Anna meets the Livingstones and becomes their traveling companion. After 12 weeks at sea, they arrive in Africa. Anna volunteers to join the Livingstones’ missionary work, but Anna has lots to learn about survival. Despite her efforts, she has trouble being accepted by the Bakwena people. Soon, a drought strikes the village. Meanwhile, tensions rise between the Bakwena and the Boers. So, what can a woman who knows more about the queen’s fashion than the entire African continent do when the lives of her new family are in danger?

The author’s lyrical prose, arising from Anna’s hopes, fears, past wounds, and wonderment, kept me turning the pages. Pike fleshes out a unique setting that’s well described and offers up the unexpected. However, my favorite characters were the real-life secondary ones woven into the plot, especially Chief Sechele. Overall, In Spite of Lions is a beautifully narrated story about reclaiming one’s life, but it should be marketed as a series so reader expectations are met. I didn’t realize this was part of a series.