Christmas Eve 1928 gave birth to a yearly phenomenon in South Africa. A herd of false killer whales were found beached upon the shore. It has also given birth to the story of two young children who meet an old woman named Kima. Kima somehow knows why this has happened, but that’s not all she knows. The children, Alex and Alice, realize that there is more to this woman that what meets the eye, and ear. She will reveal to them a tale, a mysterious story she claims was passed on to her by a mythical Black Seagull.
Derived from both historic tales and figures, Kima is a fictional character portrayed in a way that makes her become real.
My Rating of this Book – 4 out of 5 stars
This review is a long time coming. I attempted to start Kima last August, which was a mistake because I became too distracted with the publication of my own novel. Fortunately, I was able to take the time to enjoy and finish the book this past month.
There are two plotlines taking place in Kima that coincide with each other. The first is about Alex and his best friend Alice. Two children living in South Africa during the 1920s who meet Kima, an elderly woman with the ability to sense certain events. The second is Kima’s story of the mystical Black Seagull, who also has the gift to see things others cannot, including the future. The flow of these two stories together did get a little confusing, at times, but the general read is a steady pace that kept my interest to the very end.
Alice, Alex, and Kima were all well written. Alex’s background was the most heart wrenching with the discovery of his mother’s death. Having my father die when I was young, I disagreed with how his father approached the matter, and I didn’t blame Alex for his reaction. Meanwhile, I felt that the animal characters of Kima’s story were very much like the animal characters in the Life of Pi, representing particular people in the story. I suspected the Black Seagull was Kima, herself, in many ways. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out who the others might’ve been. But the character I could relate to most, personally, was the Gray Wolf.
I was a bit distracted by the settings of this novel. I would have liked a little more description to give me a better idea of the area. Especially the exact location of the Black Seagull’s adventure. I couldn’t pin it down. This is because the species used have such vast home ranges. For example, I most often think the gray wolf (Canis lupus) living in North America. However, I also know they reside in a few parts of Eurasia. I’m not sure what time period the Black Seagull’s adventure takes place, so I’m not sure which historical distribution would be considered as well. I know wildlife does not view the world as humans do, and this is just my biological point of view. However, I feel more landscape descriptions might have helped me with painting a more accurate setting in my mind.
Finally, Kima carries several great messages for all people to hear. The ending especially, when Kima sent a message to Alex related to him and his father; even though I was a little disappointed in it. With all that Alex had learned and realized, I expected a different result. However, the conclusion of Kima was logical, the story well told, and I hope Alex’s experience with the false killer whales will lead him to study marine biology in his future.