Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Charm' by Leyla Atke

Danish author Leyla Atke lists her hobbies as archeology, paleontology, history, fitness and tennis - but after reading this multi-award winning book CHARM AN AMAZING STORY OF A LITTLE BLACK CAT, we will hope that she places writing at the top of her list of hobbies! For a debut book this little edition is quite remarkable.

Whether or not the narrator of this story is the author is not indicated, but the warmth of the writing suggests this is as much a memoir as a children's story. For example, Leyla opens her story thus: `I was inspired to write this book by an amazing and strange experience I had a few years back. It was a hot summer day in June of 2006 and I was leaving work for a break.....At a big intersection near the roundabout noticed from afar something small and black moving among rushing cars...At first I thought is was a cat that had been run over by a car. When I got closer, I saw a small black kitten sitting in the middle of the road...I was surprised that the kitten was not hurt. I wondered how it got to the middle of the intersection without being crushed at the roadside. I grabbed the little one and crossed another street ....It's like it fell from the sky I though in amazement...' She takes the dirty, smelly little kitten home, cleaned him and named him Charm. `He was a very smart, serious, quiet, and calm cat.'

Time passes and Charm becomes panther-like with a very strong aura and loved exploring a nearby factory. During some reconstruction of the owner's house, Charm disappeared and is found deceased in the factory yard thirteen days later. Crushed, the narrator plans for the burial of her beloved Charm, and considers animal sacrifice of a rooster to aid Charm in his afterlife. A year later she feels Charm's presence in her bedroom and has a dream about Charm in a fairyland. And miracle of miracles she discovers a little black kitten by Charm's grave, takes him in, washes him, and he becomes very like Charm, bring happiness to his new keeper and serving as a reincarnation of the original Charm.

Leyla illustrates her book well, with both photographs and illustrations, writes a story that has wonderful overtones of the spiritual world about which we know so little, and in her own way, introduces the reader to the realm of afterlife and the reincarnation of beloved animals. And she makes it work on every level. And by story's end, we KNOW this is a memoir! Grady Harp, June 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.