Review by Tahlia Newland
Title: The Gifting
Author: Anne Brooke
Publisher: Bluewood Publishing
The Gifting is a unique fantasy where mental and physical worlds merge in a flight of unrestrained imagination. Unlike much fantasy I’ve read lately, this book soars with hope. It’s a story of redemption gained through a mystical journey through earth, air, fire and water that tests the deepest recesses of a man’s soul.
From the blurb: The mind-dwellers of Gathandria are under deadly siege. For two year-cycles they have suffered: their people decimated, their beautiful city in ruins. Their once peaceful life has descended into chaos and misery. Legends tell of the Lost One who will return at such a time to save them from their mortal enemy – the mind-executioner.
Johan and Isabella journey to the Lammas Lands in search of the one they think might be the Lost One, a distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue, but Johan has his doubts because Simon is a coward and a murderer. How can such a person be the one who will save their country?
They find Simon and the book tells us the story of their journey to Gathandria interwoven with stories from Simon’s past. Through the stories, Simon comes to understand himself, and through the deadly challenges posed by their journey, he and his companions comes to discover his deeper qualities. The results are surprising for them all.
The mind-executioner who has absolute power with a stolen mind-cane tracks them throughout their journey, always just behind them and intent on killing Simon. When the cane strikes Simon, it should kill him, but it doesn’t, and eventually Simon comes to realise that he has a powerful gift. However, in order to use it he needs a strong, pure mind. At Johan’s request, Simon tells his stories, going deeper into his past as the story progresses. The storytelling cleanses and protects them, a wonderful theme that parallels the healing affect of recounting one’s childhood traumas for a councillor or psychiatrist.
The character development is exemplarity. It’s rare that you see characters grow so deeply and well supported by the action.
The story is told from four points of view, three on the journey and one in Gathandria. The chapters are divided into sections, sometimes very short, labelled with the name of the character whose viewpoint that section is written in. At first, these quick changes were a little disconcerting, but it soon became part of the rhythm of the story, and some of the surrealistic action might have been confusing without the different viewpoints.
What was even stranger was the occasional use of present tense at the beginning of a change from one point of view to another. Tense is a risky thing to play with and it did jolt a little, but it also highlighted aspects of the action. I think the author pulled it off, but others may disagree. The story would have read more smoothly without it. I’m giving it 4 stars and I recommend it for anyone who likes something different and especially if they like a bit of psychological depth in their reading.
Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11409250-the-gifting
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-Brooke/97047896458
Twitter page: http://twitter.com/AnneBrooke