The International Writers Magazine
Travel Stories

Inka by Angela Vehorn, Ithaca Press, 2006
ISBN: 0-9771482-5-4

Gabriella Davies review

In her debut novel ‘Inka’, Angela Vehorn takes us on a trip to the more exotic parts of the world, seen through the eyes of a young travel writer on an assignment to Machu Picchu, in Peru.

Take rough and ready hiking to Machu Picchu, take glamorous award events at the Beverly Hills Hilton, take quick, witty, wonderwoman-esque Californian beauty, and take a dedicated travel writer who will do anything for a good story. Take all this and you will have Kelly Sloane. This is a book about the modern woman. Doing much more than filling in the average stereotypes she presents, a beautiful, self-sufficient, single, career-driven young woman, main character Kelly seems to fulfil the will of a writer to create ten characters in one.

Each chapter is filled with exciting entrances and eccentric characters, and while we climb the six-day trail up the Peruvian Andes, the reader will find themselves deeply entangled in the jungle of happenings that surround the main character. Accompanying her in her quest for the Lost City is National Geographic photographer Leif, who she (rather predictably) falls madly in love with. He is (also rather predictably) young, handsome, strong, and quite mysterious. The two main characters find themselves in dozens of no-way-out situations, which, due to their excellence in adventures, they find their way out of. Some of the secondary characters in the plot are overly archetypical, namely the evil geographer Dr. Holmes who chases the twosome up the Andean mountains, among others. One might find a slight implausibility factor in some of the scenarios presented by the author, but as the reading goes on this becomes just another factor which seems to drag along from chapter to chapter.

In the end, it’s all about a quest for Kelly’s self-discovery, as she finds herself in situations that lead to self-examination, often in the form of nightmares. The book will give you romance, adventure, comedy and suspense; it will keep you reading, not for the curiosity of a deep plot, but mainly for entertainment and distraction value.

It comes to mind that perhaps Vehorn’s concern with keeping the reader interested might have been slightly overly judged. In an attempt by the author to ‘keep the adrenaline running’, the reader finds himself surrounded by caves, rituals, serial-killers, ghosts, lost diaries, and a pot-pourri of cheesy moments that will fill the pages right to the end of chapter 63.

However, the author’s concern with geographic precision and reference is spot on, as the names of places and Inca building sites are exact. Illustrations done by Worrasit Tantinipankut at the beginning of most chapters come as an aid to the readers’ imagination, and give us a clear idea of the area the characters have covered.

This novel is slightly reminiscent of Helen Fielding’s ‘Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination’ (Viking Adult, 2004), which is also about a beautiful, young journalist who finds herself on a life-changing assignment to an exotic part of the world, where she meets the man of her dreams. Although the plot does not have the depth and the reality factor that it could have done had the characters not been so archetypical and caricatured, and had the twists and punch lines not been so predictable, it still is enjoyable to read, if only for pure fun and escapism.

© Gabriela Davies November 2006

Gabriella is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth 
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