cover image Binstead's Safari

Binstead's Safari

Rachel Ingalls. Touchstone Books, $6.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-65955-4

After a long hiatus between the publication of the near-classic Mrs. Caliban and her recent collections of novellas, I See a Long Journey and The Pearlkillers, Ingalls has produced another novel, set in the real world of white hunters but skirting the edges of superstition and myth. The reader follows folklorist Stan Binstead and his unwanted wife Millie into the bush and watches her transformation, by virtue of a new haircut and a couple of smashing outfits, from dependence to self-awareness. Millie becomes the admired center of the expedition; more significantly, she meets and falls in love with Henry Lewis, the fabled hunter about whose person has grown up precisely the lore that Stan has set out to research. Nicknamed Simba (Bantu for lion), Lewis is envied, even hated, by the other hunters, but made one of their own by the beasts of the bush, a rite of passage he transfers to the woman he has chosen. As the hunting partyfrozenlooks on, a lion materializes from the thicket of trees, glides up to Millie, as if to memorize her, then suddenly turns and streaks away. The scene glows, like a painting in primary color. Deep in the forest a dark and subtle magic is taking place, and thereby hangs this impressive tale, taut with the thrill of the hunt and the spell of the unknown. (February 20)