cover image Promise the Night

Promise the Night

Michaela MacColl. Chronicle, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7625-4

MacColl’s sophomore novel is a rousing piece of historical fiction that follows the childhood of Beryl Markham, who would become the first pilot to fly solo from England to North America. In 1912, 10-year-old Beryl lives in a tiny hut on her father’s horse farm in British East Africa, now Kenya. Always seeking adventure, she is eager to become a “murani” (warrior) along with the boys of the neighboring Nandi tribe, and to hunt the leopard that injured her beloved dog. Her friend Kibii’s father agrees to teach her how to track animals, wrestle, and spear targets, but as Beryl becomes a woman, the gap widens between her and the Nandi. And when her father attempts to make Beryl into a proper British girl, it’s war. MacColl (Prisoners in the Palace) addresses the tensions between British settlers and native Africans in this immersive story about a fiercely determined individualist. Fictional interviews, newspaper articles, and journals of Beryl’s flight appear between chapters, emphasizing how Beryl’s childhood fearlessness and refusal to accept the status quo shaped her life as an adult. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)