At Dawn the Simorgh Appears


Fiction - Womens
397 Pages
Reviewed on 12/11/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In At Dawn the Simorgh Appears by K.A. Lillehei, an archaeologist named Anna meets Farah, a Persian artist, in Paris and asks her to act as her interpreter on a trip to study ancient Iranian ruins. While in Iran, they are kidnapped by violent outlaws and find themselves imprisoned with no means of escape. The two women are unsure why they have been kidnapped or what their fate will be, but soon they befriend a young boy named Samir who brings them food. To pass their time, Anna and Farah mentally escape the prison by sharing stories of their childhood. The leader of the outlaws arrives and it seems clear that neither woman nor Samir will survive his temper. They manage to escape into the Zagros mountains. As they head for the safety of Iran, their journey is filled with dangers from landmines, corrupt border guards, predators and the outlaws in hot pursuit. With the Iranian border in clear sight, the trio has one final obstacle to achieve, only this one is the most dangerous.

At Dawn the Simorgh Appears by K.A. Lillehei is a wonderfully colorful story that will transport you into the beautiful landscape of the Middle East. The descriptive detailed narrative brings everything to life, from the musty prison cell to the fragrant mountains. The main characters have distinguishable personalities and although they are so different, they gather strength from each other as they try to escape the prison of their painful memories. The plot moves at a fast pace and the obstacles they have to face before and after their escape builds great tension. With Anna and Farah sharing the emotional stories of their past, it builds a great backstory for their characters. Anna is an inspirational woman with an enviable strength while Farah's sensitivity is heartwarming. The story also highlights the ancient cultures and architecture of the Middle East. There is also an important message threaded throughout the story of how people faced with difficult childhoods can make life-changing choices that will take them on different life paths. The ending was a surprise twist and does leave room for a sequel.

K.C. Finn

At Dawn The Simorgh Appears is a work of inspirational women’s fiction penned by author K. A. Lillehei. Focused on the lives, experiences, and influences of young women in recent modern times, the plot follows two such women who have bonded as one teaches the other. Farah, a Persian teacher, meets American Anna and they travel to Iran to explore Persian culture together with Farah acting as guide. When the pair is suddenly kidnapped by a band of outlaws with opposing views, so begins a terrifying and psychological journey of survival. What results is an exciting but also tense and poignant read about the bonds women forge and the experiences that shape them throughout life.

Author K. A. Lillehei has created a story geared for the women’s fiction genre, but one which bears many of the high-quality hallmarks of the literary fiction mold as well. Character-driven and deeply developed in this area, Anna and Farah are distinctly different yet complementary personalities, each with strong aspirations and a great thirst for knowledge and success in their lives. Their experiences with the gang of outlaws are realistically portrayed but also non-graphic, making the psychological journey highly accessible to readers of any sensitivity level. Their bond is what takes precedence in the slow-burning plot, and this becomes the high stakes emotional content as the story reaches its exciting conclusion in the Zagros mountains. Overall, At Dawn The Simorgh Appears is an empowering and inspirational tale that is sure to please female readers everywhere.

Rabia Tanveer

At Dawn the Simorgh Appears by K.A. Lillehei is the story of two women from different parts of the world, but tragedy brought them together. Anna is a bright American woman who wants to know more about ancient Persia and she finds the perfect teacher in the form of Farah. Farah decides to join Anna on her journey to Iran as a translator. They were ready for an enjoyable time when they were kidnapped by some outlaws and taken hostage. Fearful for their future, the two women found a bond in these trying times. They decided to break out of their prison and they succeeded. But now they have to get through the dangerous mountain range and wilderness while making sure they don’t get captured once again. The task is big, but the will of these women to survive is bigger. Can they make it out alive?

At Dawn the Simorgh Appears by K.A. Lillehei is a heart-stopping thriller that had me on the edge of my seat and didn’t let me put the book down. While the descriptions of their capture and the time they spent in captivity aren’t gory, the author has done a phenomenal job at getting the point across with the best word choice. What I loved the most about this novel is that the author didn’t target one particular race or group of people belonging to a certain religion or culture. The author had a very neutral stance on the matter, being respectful of the culture of the countries mentioned and offering good entertainment to readers. Anna and Farah share a very special bond; these two characters are given plenty of time to grow and become well rounded. They showed tenacity for survival and the author ensured they had plenty of opportunities to prove their worth to readers. They aren’t heroes, they are simple women that you could know but they face challenges that test them beyond their imagination.