HM Book Review: She / Ayesha by H. Rider Haggard

Please celebrate with me as I have finally finished another book from my Big Bad Wolf Book Sale haul! Yay! This is also quite the accomplishment for me because even though I count this as one book in my challenges, this is technically a volume containing two books. So the fact that I was able to finish it this year makes me quite happy. I hope I can keep this momentum, or at least not get into a reading slump anytime soon.

While I don’t require myself to post reviews on all the books I read, I have written reviews for all the titles I have finished thus far in the year. This is a bit of a positive push for me to keep this thing going. I also remembered that my reviews also help me personally to remember how I feel about certain books after a good amount of time has passed from the time I finished them, similar to the theme of my Product Notes series. This can be helpful at times, such as when I was doing a Down the TBR Hole post and I was deciding whether I should keep the sequel of a book I’ve read in my ‘Want to Read’ list.

I tried to do separate reviews for the two titles as technically these are two different books, and I just happened to have a 2-in-1 edition. Honestly, though, I have the same feelings on both of them so I’ll just talk about them together.

This edition did not have a proper blurb for the two titles, so I looked at other individual editions of the books.


She is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family. Holly and Leo eventually arrive in eastern Africa where they encounter a primitive race of natives and a mysterious white queen, Ayesha, who reigns as the all-powerful “She” or “She-who-must-be-obeyed” and who has a mysterious connection to young Leo. 

Goodreads Summary

In this sequel to She, Horace Holly & his ward Leo Vincey once again embark on a quest to find the mysterious woman known as Ayesha. Knowing that She is no longer in Africa, they go east, eventually reaching a lamasery in the mountains of Tibet. The abbot warns them against continuing, but they press on & discover an ancient city named Kaloon, which is ruled by the evil Khan Rassen & his imperious wife, the Khania Atene. Near the city is a huge volcano, wherein lives the Hesea, the Priestess of Hes, & her servants. Leo becomes the center of a conflict between Atene & the Hesea, both of whom desire him.

Goodreads Summary

My Thoughts

The thing is, I am simply not impressed by any of the main characters. To be honest, I think they’re all idiots. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt this way about main characters before. I kind of disdain them? And that’s different from just feeling that a character is being stupid, which does happen quite frequently. At most, I probably like Holly the best out of the three main characters, which I think is partly because the books are in his point of view and he basically is the narrator of both stories. Still, there are a lot of times where I just…think so little of him that it honestly surprises me too.

I also feel like I’m supposed to think highly of Leo, another main character, which I think is also because the book is in Holly’s perspective and he just adores the man. I don’t see the appeal, though; the idea of Leo being awesome and Leo himself just doesn’t connect to me. I also think he’s pretty superficial and I couldn’t shake it off no matter how I tried.

In a surprising twist, I don’t hate the books. I know, maybe I should have started with the positives, but I really felt those previous points strongly that I had to say them first. It is probably more accurate to say that I have a like-hate relationship with the books. The books did reel me in, and I did have times where I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I think this is because of the plot, it’s the kind that makes me want to know what happens next. I want to see the reveals, I wanna know how they get in and out of certain situations, that kind of stuff. So I basically read to know what happens next while I am annoyed at the characters most of the time.

There is also some sort of mythology involved in this series, which also interests me. I love myths and mythology based stories, so that was definitely a plus for me and something that kept me reading the books.

Rating: 3.5/5. This applies to both titles.

Do I recommend these books? Sure, they’re nice enough and do have a good enough plot. I sometimes have a need for these kind of books, where it doesn’t really go too deep for me. Obviously, I am not raving about these, and if you don’t have time for characters that you potentially won’t like, maybe try something else. But if you think you’ll have a different view, and maybe you just want to prove me wrong, go ahead and check these out! This is not my favorite series, but it might be yours. Never say never.

Did you ever have any similar feelings on books, where you hate the characters but like the plot? I’d love to know if you do!

2 thoughts on “HM Book Review: She / Ayesha by H. Rider Haggard

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