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on May 1, 2011
This novella is deceptively simple in its voice, but "Malaika" captures all the subtlety of man's need for honesty and truth in an unconditional friendship. This is more than a friendship between a man and a lioness. Their bond transcends reality into the world of dreams where communication is possible when language and prejudice prevent the simple joys of just being in this world. Thoreau's idea of "simplify, simplify, simplify!" works for the crazy American who has jetisoned his family and creature comforts and needs a catalyst (excuse the pun) in order to see that he is running away from his life rather than facing it. Emerson and Thoreau, as well as Thomas's friends in the village at the edge of the Serengeti, see what Malaika sees--that the ways of the world are cruel, troubling, and complicated. The lioness becomes a mother symbol of strength and hope for mankind even though it takes man time to see beyond his own selfish tendencies. This is a lovely book in which the simplicity of the text allows the reader to see the complexity of the human condition.
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on December 7, 2010
For several days, I found myself completely absorbed in this novella. In fact, I actually read it twice.

Man's relationships take center stage in this story about love and the many expected and unexpected ways that it manifests itself in our lives...`Malaika' is a hartwarming, multi-faceted tale. On the surface it is a simple `read', beneath the surface It is the story of finding meaning in life when life seems to have pulled you into a shadow.

I was greatly impressed by Van Heerling's use of language and the flow of his sentences. The narrative is vivid and the dialogue is strong. The delightfully descriptive language gives one a sense of place and successfully conveys a great deal with a clear economy of words.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a cozy read about an exotic place. A story filled with stories.
I anxiously await the next work to fall off of the pen of this very talented new author.
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on January 17, 2012
I'm afraid I will not be able to do this amazing novella justice in my review. To put it short, MALAIKA was quite simply beautiful and haunting. It is a powerful story woven by the author in masterful prose--one that is thought provoking and speaks of the power of forgiveness. This is by far the best piece of literature, under full novel length, I have EVER read, and I cannot wait to read this author's next work.
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on May 18, 2012
Although I suspected the ending all along, I was both spellbound and deeply moved by the story - sometimes a writer does such a good job that you find it a little difficult to remember that this IS a work of fiction. The story is brilliantly told - I recommend it to anyone who might need a lift from life's difficulties.
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VINE VOICEon October 31, 2012
Van Heering's wonderful little novella, MALAIKA, might become your favorite feel-good read about animal and human interaction. He claims that it is total fiction. If that's true then Heering has exceptional ability for finding the soul of realism. I finished it at one sitting and then read it again to simply enjoy the writer's insight and use of language.

A man, overwhelmed by his personal travails, sits on the edge of the Serengeti enjoying an African smoke and a cup of fragrant coffee. He tells the reader up front that he isn't going to share anything about his personal situation. He's true to his word. You learn very little about how or why he got here. He lets you know that he has "another lifetime dappled with hurt and a lost love elsewhere in the world -- I won't bore you with the details." Okay, I'm sorry to hear that but have enough travails of my own. I am eager to get on with the story about lions. I like lions.

As he's enjoying his surroundings, along comes a lioness, big and beautiful and terrifying, capable of taking his life with one snap of her massive teeth. The man is not a brave person and, in fact, empties his bladder during the encounter (as I probably would). The lion samples the smoke and a little spill of coffee, and, although still a threatening creature, seems to feel at ease with the man's presence before she ambles away.

The visits become more frequent and welcome. Over time, the relationship evolves into one of companionship and affection on the part of both animal and man. Malaika (as she is named by the man) occasionally spends the night alongside his bunk, much the same as a house cat, with his dangling hand entangled in her soft coat. They walk together, talk with each other in human and animal sounds, wrestle around, and are comfortable with touching and nudging each other. Heering relates these moments of togetherness in beautiful and inspiring prose.

This friendship, however, doesn't go unnoticed by either Malaika's animal family or the African villagers near the man's isolated hut. Neither group cares for the close association. Eventually both the lion and the man have to come to terms with this displeasure. How that evolves and the eventual results form the heart of the book which I won't disclose.

You must read this book. The elements of love and friendship, both between men and animals and men for each other, are elegantly explored and expressed by Heering. I can guarantee that all of your senses will be touched by his brilliant writing.

Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
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on March 26, 2012
Though generally reluctant to write reviews for even those books I have found most enjoyable, I feel compelled, following the reading of MALAIKA, to ask potential (future) readers not to let this treasure of a novella slip you by...it is a gift to relish and savor...a keeper to the nth degree. The story is lyrical and fluid in the telling, and subtly powerful and profound in effect. From the first page I was captivated by the authenticity and poignancy of the first person narrative; in the pages that followed, the precious and all too human relationships, the dash of humor, the realism of emotion, and the elemental magic. This is a tale that has presence, almost a palpable presence, all too rarely found in today's fiction. I won't even hint at the book's plot; the synopsis that you have at hand should suffice. I will confess, though, that so great is the number of books I have in my "to read" pile, that some time had passed since the book's purchase when I began my reading and so I approached the story without a clue as to what it was about (something I do upon occasion). I was utterly fascinated and deeply moved, and finished it within a sitting. On my second reading of MALAIKA (yes, it is that extraordinary a story), I was fully informed and completely expectant and no less enthralled. With both readings did I find the novella an absolute jewel. I imagine you will too.
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on January 4, 2013
I know there are already a bunch of reviews and no one is going to read this, but... I enjoyed the book, there are a lot of life lessons inside of a engaging story about a man and a lyon, and the man and his life. Just enough content to let your mind fill in some details that are only hinted at. If you let it this book can take you to rural Kenya.
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VINE VOICEon September 9, 2013
It is really difficult to give justice to this great work. I don't care what your genre is, read this one! By the way, don't fight the tears-just let em roll.
After reading this, do not delay in reading "Dreams of Eli" by this great author.
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on September 10, 2012
I was looking for e-books to read and downloaded Van Heerling's novella "Malaika" on a whim. I'm glad I did. It's a fast but good read about an American expatriate named Thomas living in Kenya who escapes the West by immersing himself in the culture of the Serengeti and getting in touch with his wild side -- in this case, safari wildlife on the African plains. I don't want to give the fantastic story away beyond mentioning that it revolves around his conflicting relationships with a lion pride and humans. The story is an allegory that links the two in an almost-mystical circle of life. Intrigued or confused? Read the story, and you'll understand what I mean.

Having lived in Africa and visited the Serengeti, I related personally to the Africa portrayed in the novella. The imagery is good, although it could have been developed further with a more descriptive narrative that paints a fuller picture. At times the story was left wanting. As an American, I also found some of the dialogue too American in style and heavy on the American dream, although neither detracted from the story. In the end, I was left satisfied with an ending that brought the story to closure and left me pondering the deeper meaning proffered by the author.

I give Van Heerling's "Malaika" 4 stars and definitely recommend it. It's a fast read that offers a quick and savory taste of Africa.
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on May 11, 2012
Beautifully - intelligently - crafted experience. The story is wonderful and the story's writer is shown to be a true artist and gifted literary craftsman.
Sometimes it's not just the story, but how ya tell the story that makes it all worth-wild! I couldn't help but be fascinated with Van's very specific method of expression!!!

I loved this story of love and adventure!!! It was a trip to take and I'd love to take it again!!!
This story deserves time and a place in your mind for genuine study of a true art-form.

AKA - THIS WRITER IS DEEP! AND EXCELLENT AT SHOWING US JUST HOW DEEP HE TRULY IS!!!

:-D
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