metaphysical

Vingede

Vingede
A possibly schizophrenic adolescent boy who speaks mysterious, rhyming riddles… a mute teen girl who can only communicate through art and has an odd collecting habit… Two young people held captive by unrelated mental illness or is there a sinister connection between the cases – a swan song cry no one has yet heard? When former novitiate turned PI, Tobias Berger, is hired by the foster father of a teen whom his unusual new client believes may have knowledge of an undiscovered crime, the private eye finds himself immersed in two cases stranger and darker than the one which introduced him to his current secretary, a young woman who’s much more to him than an employee. As the pieces in an eerie puzzle come together and the couple begins a relationship that Tobias has been hesitant to let take flight, the two discover that the supernatural is far from done with them and that the mystical may well be at work in more than one aspect of their lives. Another fairy tale mystery in which the paranormal proves itself business as usual.

Reviewed 

An Excellent and Eerie Mystery

The second of Krisi Keley’s Friar Tobias mysteries is even better than the first. Once again the author’s background in linguistics and theology provides the unique material for this superb supernatural mystery.

A man seeks Tobias’s help for his foster son. He thinks the child may have witnessed a crime, but the boy has a speech problem due to either autism or schizophrenia, so no one can understand him. Like Ms Keley, Tobias has a degree in linguistics which is why the man seeks him out. Paolo speaks in poetry and makes obscure references to what Tobias eventually figures out is an old fairy tale about a girl and her eleven brothers that are turned into swans by a wicked witch. He senses that someone is in trouble, but who?

Tobias’s friend, the psychiatrist priest, wants him to meet a mute and apparently traumatised girl who has turned up in a hospital and, in what appears to be sheer coincidence, her sketches indicate that she fills the role of the girl in the fairy tale. But where are her eleven brothers? And how does Paolo know all this? This description is a gross simplification of a story with many subtleties, but as with all good mysteries, our suspicions are aroused and the pieces come together at the end.

Ms Keley manages to imbue her mystery with more than just the supernatural. As with all her books, questions of spirituality are at the core of the story. Tobias is a staunch Catholic. He believes in leaving sex until marriage, so his girlfriend, Samantha, who he met in his last case, must wait with him, and this provides some interesting topics of conversation. The nature of the crime and how it reflects present day morals is also a matter of thought-provoking reflection on Tobias’s part, but both these issues sit quite naturally in the story simply because of who Tobias is.

Ms Keley is a master of the English language. Her prose flows beautifully (though I did find the first sentence rather a mouthful) and she expresses subtle ideas succinctly and elegantly. The characters are charming with a delightful intelligent banter between Tobias and Samantha. The plot is interesting, the pacing never languishes and the editing is sleek.

Overall the book is an excellent and eerie mystery about a sick crime that needs a little supernatural intervention to bring the perpetrator to justice. This is a wonderful example of the kind of gems you’ll only find in independent fiction. It’s an entertaining, skilfully executed mystery, but it’s also different, deep and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it for those who like private investigator stories with supernatural and metaphysical elements.

 

Mareritt

Mareritt
Embark on a wild “mare ride” to slay a dragon and uncover the truth. As beauty lies sleeping… Four pretty, partying high school seniors, four strange and startling accidents the police believe the girls have brought on themselves. Do demonic nightmares and fairy tale visions bury a dark secret haunting the girls or is the past simply struggling to reach the light? Twenty-eight year old former novitiate turned PI, Tobias Berger, hired to discover who, if anyone, is threatening the four troubled young women, is about to embark on a wild “mare ride” to slay their dragon and uncover the truth. A dark fairy tale mystery with a touch of mystic light.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

June 30, 2013

A beautifully written, extraordinary metaphysical mystery

5 Stars

Mereritt  by Krisi Keley is a beautifully written, extraordinary and fascinating metaphysical mystery that is a great read for anyone who likes a supernatural mystery. It will particularly appeal to anyone who likes a bit of meat in their fiction and especially those interested in philosophy, which is seamlessly woven into the story. Even the mystery itself is of a metaphysical nature.

Four girls have the same nightmares, see ghostly visions and are involved in strange accidents, one of them is in a comma. The question is, is someone trying to hurt them, or are they just mentally unstable? It’s not a case the police can do anything about, so one of the girl’s mother seeks out the local private investigator, Friar Tobe, as he is known. Tobias isn’t a Friar. He left the order before completing his novitiate, but he is a Christian  with a clearly profound faith who had been on his way to becoming a Brother, and the locals have taken to referring to him as Friar Tobe.  In this way, he is the Christian equivalent of Tenzin from the Rule of a Ten Books by Gay Hendricks . Tenzin is an ex-Buddhist monk and also a PI but his cases are more of a worldly nature.

Tobias  is a likeable character, open-minded, self-aware, intelligent and with a highly refined wit  that is shared by the equality intelligent female lead, Samantha. She is one of the four eighteen-year-olds involved in the case, and she flirts with him. He finds her enchanting, but since she is a client, he mustn’t fall for her, a fact that adds a nice undercurrent of sexual tension to the story. Ms Keley is a consummate story teller, and this book, like her On the Soul of a Vampire Series has a symbolic aspect, in this case in the shared nightmare. Tobias must piece together all the threads of a mystery that operates on the mental, physical and spiritual planes and that calls for his knowledge of linguistics and his understanding of the spiritual dimension.

All the characters are well-fleshed out and believable ( Sam is more mature than many eighteen year olds but not unrealistically so)  and another particularly likeable character is Father Mike. The relationship between the two men has the light touch that comes from a long and close friendship.

This is an entertaining and enjoyable mystery, but it is also much more. It is also a thought-provoking exploration of divine justice and redemption, a particularly wonderful book for those with an interest in philosophy, for Ms Keley has a degree in theology. She knows her stuff and it shows. This is the finest kind of metaphysical fiction in that the philosophy and its world view are not only inseparable from the story, but also are fully researched and don’t in any way impinge upon or overpower the storyline. So it can be enjoyed on many levels; the kind of book that feeds your mind and soul, and perhaps even opens your heart somewhat. It is also flawlessly edited, not a typo or grammatical error in sight. Highly recommended. 5 stars

Pro Luce Habere

Pro Luce Habere
What if the legend isn’t simply a cautionary tale of good and evil, a warning about trading one’s soul for eternal life? What if, instead, it’s a misinterpretation of the unimaginable – something true that has only always overlooked the fundamental truth? In 1212 Provence, a boy filled with hope sets out on a pilgrimage to discover the mysteries of his faith, only to find himself become part of a dark and even more mysterious myth, born millennia ago. Forced to kill so he might live, but cherishing the lives he knows intimately in death, he is both shaped and haunted by the battle between light and darkness, within his victims and within himself. Amidst the inquisitions of the Middle Ages, two history-changing revolutions, world war and the paradoxes of modernity, an immortal being struggles to determine who really is the monster, as he journeys through time toward solving the mystery behind a legend as old as mankind. Look beyond fiction and folklore and believe again. Volumes I & II combined in one book. As a prequel, Book II: Pro Luce Habere may be read before Book I: On the Soul of a Vampire.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

June 7, 2012

5 Stars

Wow, another instalment in the On the Soul Series about the beautiful French vampire Valery.  If you don’t like vampire stories, then read on, because this is nothing like the usual vampire fare. This series reminds me more of Dostoevsky than Stephanie Meyers or any other contemporary vampire author.  It’s a long time since I’ve read the Russian masters, but the intensity, passion and depth of philosophy in Krisi Keley’s books give me the same kind of feeling. These are powerful and thought provoking books and a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy or the wide sweep of European and American history, especially as it relates to the pervading ideas of the various time periods.

It’s the exquisite character of Valery that drives these books, eloquent, intelligent, deeply contemplative, witty and beautiful both inside and outside. He was a young man with tremendous faith in God when he was turned into a vampire against his will in thirteenth century France, just after the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Volume one of Pro Luce Habere chronicles his outer journey from that time through centuries of life in Europe, and the inner journey of his struggle to reconcile his belief in God and the morals inherent in that belief with the fact that he must kill in order to live.

Volume two continues from there and takes Valery to the New World of America in its early days of colonisation. During the civil war, he uses his abilities to take away the suffering of soldiers who are dying in such pain that they beg for death. To them, he is an angel. We follow him back to Europe for a time and through the two terrible world wars of the twentieth century. Valery continues to suffer over the nature of his existence, feeling that he is an evil monster, while it is clear to those who love him that his soul is full of the light of love and compassion.  His unquenchable search for truth and the depth of his love are extremely moving.

The purity of Valery’s love will make you question your assumptions about the role of sex in a love relationship. Keley’s vampires have no desire for sex, just for the knowing of a soul that they feel at the moment they take a life. It is this, more than the blood, which sustains them and drives their blood lust. The purist of souls ignite Valery’s love, and his relationships with those who, even though he fights against it, inevitably become his ‘children’ are extraordinary.

His pain is that he can’t overcome his overwhelming desire to completely know the mortals he loves, as he only can at the moment of their death at his hands, or to loose them to a mortal death. So, even though he knows he is condemning them to the everlasting suffering of a pure soul fighting the evil of his existence, he turns them, then suffers with remorse as they fight the same inner battle he does.

The first book was set in the present day, and books two and three are Valery’s memories as he lies dying in the arms of his beloved at the end of book one. At the end of this book, we return to that point.

These books are deeply moving, and if you like an intense, passionate character, extraordinary writing and have a fascination for history, then you may become a fan. I give it 5 stars and look forward to the next instalment.

 

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

5 Stars

This is an extraordinary work of fiction. The central character is a vampire, but this is not your usual vampire story; it is an amazing way of looking at history through the eyes of a man who has lived through it – all of it. The depth of characterisation, the historical detail, the questions raised and the quality of the prose are all exemplary. When I think of the books that have moved me the most, this is top of the list.

On the Soul of a Vampire

On the Soul of a Vampire
The answer’s neither in blood nor life; the key to the mystery is in the human soul. Keley handles words with authority and skill… but more than that, she writes with a genuine spiritual and psychological depth I've rarely encountered in modern fiction. –Werner Lind, Lifeblood   For some it takes a lifetime to discover their raison d’être. Imagine searching for eight centuries. In 1997 Philadelphia, 800 year old vampire Valéry Castellane comes face to face with is reason to be, in the person of Angelina Lacroix, a young mortal woman whose understanding of immortality is about to change all he’s known as truth and which will take him, and his readers, on a journey into the human soul. Discovering a mortal who not only senses his presence, but also somehow knows his name, Valéry becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of how this might be. Confronting the girl, after learning she has knowledge of his entire existence, he is stunned and frustrated when Angelina seems more intent on convincing him he’s not the soulless monster of myth than she is with providing an explanation. Unable to take her life or give her immortality, Valéry embarks on a journey with Angelina that not only take them from Philadelphia to his childhood home in the Provençal Alps, but on a journey into his greatest hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments, and into the past that has shaped him. A novel about faltering faith and never-ending hope, On the Soul of a Vampire will not only alter everything you think you know about vampires, it will change the way you see your very soul.

The Land Beyond Goodbye

The Land Beyond Goodbye
Inheritance, betrayal, love, sex, aboriginal magic and a sleazy lawyer. What more could you want? 1987. The morning after the Great Storm. A letter drops through the door of Jess Whitelaw’s London flat and sets her on a journey through the Australian Outback and her own damaged psyche. In the heat and dust of the Northern Territory, Jess’s protective armour is chipped away as painful truths are revealed. Tension builds like thunderheads heralding the start of the Wet. Will Jess be able to come to terms with the guilt she feels? Will she ever learn that the past is not so terrifying when looked at the right way?

Reviewed 

Best novel I’ve read in years

Some books you know are going to be gold seal worthy from very early on, and this was the best metaphysical fiction I’ve ever read. The standard of the prose was excellent, (something for me as a writer to aspire to,) but more than that, the words had insight; they took you somewhere special – outback Australia. True, the physical setting is special, but not only does The Land Beyond Goodbye take you to the weather beaten back blocks of the Northern Territory, it also takes you into the land’s soul, ushered in by the aboriginal magic woman, Rose. One of my favourite lines from Rose is …

White fellah! Always thinkin’ stuff.

The Land Beyond Goodbye is about an English girl (pommie in Aussie lingo) who, as a young woman, spent some time working in an outback pub. Eighteen years have passed since she left and returned to London, but the death of an old friend has called her back. Darcy has left his place to her and she has no idea why? Or does she?

Her return brings back memories, particularly of the men, one in particular. She wonders if he is still around, if they could have had a life together if things had been different. She soon discovers that he’s around, but his life has fallen apart. He killed a man, an accident, of course, a punch up gone wrong, but  her old flame, Jamie, spent time inside for manslaughter, and he’d started the fight to protect Jess’s honour. After he came out, he hit the booze big time, threw his life away, they say.

Jess has to go to Darcy’s place to fix up the legalities. Joey worked for Darcy his whole life, but all he gets of the fortune is the house Darcy built for Joey and his wife Sherry. Sherry doesn’t try to hide her hostility and after an argument, Jess, an emotional mess, drives into the bush. The Toyota stops on a road that no one uses and she can’t get it started. She ends up walking, get’s dehydrated, and falls, once, then again. She breaks her shin, thinks she’s going to die, and would have if Rose hadn’t come along and healed her. How? Jess isn’t too sure. It seems like magic, but it can’t be, can it? How could someone like Rose have such healing ability.

Jess is the kind of modern western woman we can all identify with, and the other characters are as well drawn, Rose, as is right for the character in just a few well chosen words. The author writes her as a wise, compassionate person without judgement, and Jess’s time with her cuts through her preconceptions and prejudice in a relatively short space of time.

And then there’s Jamie, Jinjat now; he arrives looking like the alcoholic Jess had been told he’d turned into, but that was a lie, just as,  she discovers, her whole life is a lie. Jinjat has been unmade by Rose and her ancestors, stripped of pretensions and made whole. Jess feels stupid around Rose, because Rose says little, but what she does say shows an uncanny perception. At first Jess is repulsed by Jinjat’s appearance, the dirty clothes, the long hair and beard, but the longer she stays in Rose’s bush hut, eating bush tucker, living in the dust, the more her perception changes and she wonders if there could be something between them still.

Rose suggests that Jess needs fixing too. She agrees. Her life seems hollow now, compared to Rose’s wisdom and contentment, her sense of belonging and rightness with the world. But Jess has to go back to her responsibilities when the police are called to look for her. What is she going to do with this property, the mine and the huge amount of cash Darcy left her? But Jess’s time for fixing comes, and it’s no fun, but it works and Jess is remade. Her decision comes not from white fellah thinkin’ but from a place of knowing, made accessible to her by her time with Rose and her meeting with her ancestors, or demons, as Jess considers them.

This is quite simply the best book I have read in a very long time. Beautifully written, it is both an outer and an inner journey, one that captures the beauty and mystery of the outback and the depth of the inner experience that can come from immersing yourself in the rawness and vastness of the landscape, both outer and inner.

On a social level, the author shows clearly the kind of offhanded dismissal that many white Australian’s show for aboriginals, an attitude that arises from an ignorance much greater than that of any unschooled aboriginal.  Without romanticizing the aboriginal situation, the story shows how completely we can miss the point. This is primarily a story of transformation and of how inner wealth is more important than outer wealth.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the writing is that, in some places, it actually evokes the state referred to, or perhaps it’s just that I know that place where the material things we usually deem important fade into insignificance.

Undoubtedly, 5 stars and a book that everyone should read, especially Australians.

Reviewed by S M Spencer

Wow, I loved this book. Every bit of it. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Australia’s outback and original people.

 

 

Reviewed by Meredith

This book was fantastic and fully-engrossing! I will definitely be getting more of Ms. Walter’s books after this.

I was a little worried as I began – lately the books that have managed to keep my attention will jump right into some intriguing action to hook the reader at the outset (and, if the author can keep up the pace, it works). This book had a beautifully descriptive yet surreal 3 paragraph prologue at the outset (first two sentences, as a taste: “Pearly pink evening light suffused the land, blurring the edges of the bush. The throb of the electricity generator kept time with her heartbeat and the Outback took possession of her soul.” ) and THEN jumped into some action. I was worried it wouldn’t be plot-driven enough, but my fears were thankfully unfounded.

The story line follows a Brit, Jess, as she returns to the Outback for the first time in the almost 20 years since she lived there in her early twenties to claim an inheritance surprisingly left to her. We follow Jess as she goes back to old haunts, gets reacquainted with friends she hadn’t spoken with again after leaving the first time…the disconnect is painful.

The mystical pieces and storyline are increasingly less distinct pieces as Jess progresses. At the outset, Jess greets everyone with “namaste,” and she is unable to bridge the gaps between herself and former friends. As she tries to flea again, her car breaks down and strands her in the Outback. With the lucky and mystical help of a stranger, Jess is forced to face, and reveal not just to the reader but herself as well, what led her to flea the Outback so long ago.
Will she deal with it or run away yet again?

There is plenty of soul searching and action in this book. The author deftly weaves the plot with beautiful prose, romance, ‘magic’, and some heart wrenching conflicts. It’s fantastic.

I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

Reviewed by Vivian

Interesting novel. I enjoyed reading about the Aborigines. In the end it comes together and leaves me wanting to find out what happens next.

 

Ripple

Ripple
The twenty million year old story of how one dolphin was inspired by love to an intellectual achievement that changed the universe. Twenty million years ago, powers of the universe allow an ancient spirit one final chance to achieve a mysterious intellectual purpose, by incarnating it as a dolphin on the planet Azure (Earth.) The spirit is born as Ripple, a vulnerable female with a seeming tendency to insanity. She falls for the scarred fighter-dolphin Cosmo and love inspires her to achieve her purpose. But before she can communicate her discovery, she must overcome terrific odds among the terrors and tragedies of the ancient oceans. If she can succeed, the universe will change forever, and allow dolphins to profoundly affect the yet-to-evolve human race.

This is an excellent work of literary fiction, well written, moving and thought provoking, in fact, at times, downright disturbing. Truly, if we didn’t find it disturbing, there’d be something wrong with us. In just a few scenes we are shown that, despite our laws, there is still precious little justice for rape victims today. Are they really going to ask that fifteen year old to stand up in public and identify her father as her rapist? Yes, they are, and there is nothing the women can do to stop it.

Farris has taken the heart-wrenching topic of incestuous sexual abuse and approached it bravely. She has delved into the guilt, the shame and the horror felt by the victim, a fifteen year old girl raped many times by her father, and the girl’s mother, a high powered lawyer who spent more time at work than she did with her daughter. This absence from the daughter’s life in pursuit of a career is a topic that many women and, I hope, men will relate to. Phoebe couldn’t have become her father’s play thing if her mother had been around all those nights. So, of course, Helen, the mother, feels enormously guilty. The revelation also shocks her to near breaking point.

Her relationship with her husband wasn’t great, but she never thought that he would be in an pedophile group or that he would spike his daughter’s drink with a date rape drug and video his sick games so he could show his online friends. Helen finds the video and, traumatised by the sight of her husband raping her daughter, whacks him with a golf club when he returns home. He falls, hits his head and dies in hospital.

And that’s just the beginning. Will Helen be tried for murder? And what about the rest of the pedophile ring that the father had invited over to fuck his daughter the next night? The author relates just enough of their online conversation for us to know that these men are truly dangerous.

Yes, it’s heavy stuff, but at least Helen knows to take Phoebe to a safe house, and at least Helen has money and friends. I couldn’t help wondering about women and girls in this kind of situation who don’t have those kinds of resources. It would be an even bigger hell.

If it’s sounding too miserable for you, don’t be put off because the story actually has a lot of heart and it comes from the women who support and care for each other. Helen and Phoebe end up in a safe house in the country and Helen gets excellent councillors and a smart sassy lawyer who has her own background of abuse. The inner turmoil and conflicting emotions of the characters come out slowly and in ever deepening layers, like peeling an onion. The revelations to their therapists, and Phoebe eventually confronting her mother are expertly plotted and paced for maximum affect. We discover the depth of the betrayal, the things her father told her to keep her compliant and the effect it’s had on Phoebe. It’s all too believable and terribly sad. We are left in no doubt as to the long term effects of such abuse.

The story is held together with a very strong sense of danger from the remaining men. The police are supposed to find them, they find two, but the third remains at large, and they don’t know who he is. By the time they find out, it is almost too late.

We hear the voice of this man in small snippets throughout the book. He’s there in the back ground like our worst nightmare. He’s the evil in the shadows, the monster beneath the bed. He represents unbridled lust without conscience. The women’s characters are all expertly drawn. I cared deeply for them. They were real people to me.

In contrast, the man is a cardboard cut out, but he should be. More rounded characterisation would give him too much power. It would detract from the women, and this is the women’s story. We only need to know the man in his role as abuser, the rest is irrelevant here. Also, he is much more fearsome as a shadow. Once a fear becomes known, it is no longer so scary.

If I was to be picky, I might say that it was too easy to pick who the third man was, and that certain things in the story were a little too convenient, like the Olympic horse rider and Carl’s boyfriend being a therapist, but they really didn’t matter. It was a great story and ultimately one of hope, for it showed that with the right kind of support, victims of abuse† can heal, start over and make a good life for themselves.

I highly recommend this book, especially to men.

5 stars.

 

Reviewed by Richard Bunning

Tui Allen’s book “Ripple” should be as important to new generations as Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” was to mine. Carson’s grew out of a life time of interest in Marine Biology. We now understand on a scientific level that by destroying our environment we are diminishing ourselves. Allen’s book is a seminal work that takes us to the next level, more than most other work has done in the 50 years since. Allen can do for our metaphysical spirit what Carson did for our intellectual comprehension. Carson wrote of the nuts and bolts of environmental structure, and Allan of the essence of life itself.
But isn’t this book just a short sentimental journey, flowing from Allan’s clever perception of what cetacean life might actually embrace, namely, a sentient consciousness to rival our own.
Yes, and yet it is so much more.
This is a timely reminder, though we don’t lack them in number but only of this quality, of what we are doing to the waters of this azure planet.
Can we heed this story as any more than a brief sentimental journey, as our brief tears over the likes of Joy Adamson’s “Born Free”? Probably not! However, I insist we should. Allen’s Ripple needs to be on our reading lists and perhaps it could even be some sort of film. Time will tell. Many reviews by far more influential critics than I will have to appear first, but this book is every bit good enough to join the common vernacular of our savage modern tribe, if the brush of fame can just be applied.
Who is to say whether “Ripple” will be simply another “science fiction drama” that touches a few lucky readers, or one that grows to touch our common consciousness, our understanding of ourselves? All I can do is send this weak bleat into the ether, without any hope of where it might fall. I hope that this sentimental delight doesn’t prove to be a visionary documentary drama foretelling of the final extinction of sea mammals, sometime between 2207 and 2217 Anno Domini.
I hope the book’s cover doesn’t confine it to the young adult, and mostly female, shelves. It will sell well from them, but it is so much larger than this market. This is a book for every one of us who has a thread that still ties them to concern for the wellbeing of life, and not just a rope connecting them with the selfish survival of man. Unlike the other books mentioned here, this is certainly fiction, but not mere fiction, not mere, not for one fleeting second.

These Fragile Things

These Fragile Things
Parents: Ask yourselves how would you react if your 14-year old daughter claimed to be seeing visions? Teenagers: would you risk ridicule and scorn – knowing others besides yourself will be affected – to voice a seemingly impossible claim? As Streatham, South London, still reels from the riots in neighbouring Brixton, Graham Jones, an ordinary father, grows fearful for his teenage daughter Judy who faces a world where the pace of change appears to be accelerating. Judy Jones knows what it means to survive. But when Judy claims to be seeing visions, her father will call it a miracle, and, the headline-hungry press will label her The Miracle Girl. Delusion, deception, diabolic – or is it just possible that Judy’s apparitions are authentic? This intense and emotionally-charged portrait of a family deep in crisis will have you reflecting on all that you believe to be true.

Reviewed 

 

These Fragile Things is an essay on survival: what does it mean to survive? How do we define successful survival? And when one’s life has changed dramatically, how are those around us dragged in to our experience of surviving? When teenager Judy is almost killed in 1982 by a falling tree, her parents respond in very different ways. Her mother, Elaine, is bogged down by the practicalities while her father, Graham, makes a pact with God. In this intense, emotionally complex novel, we witness (in the Biblical sense as well as the literal narrative sense) how Judy’s survival impacts not only on her parents, but those around her. And we wonder – along with all the characters in the book – whether and how that pact with God has manifested itself in the deeply spiritual visions Judy then has.

This book could be seen as an exploration of the impact of the embrace of religion on routine domestic life, but that would be to oversimplify what I think the author is trying to do. This book is more about our desire to explain what happens to us, to justify the tipping of the scales of existence to one side or the other, and our desire to maintain an equilibrium when everything changes. For me, the novel became particularly interesting once Judy began to experience her visions, and the author has done a clever balancing act herself by showing the impact of these extraordinary claims by Judy on two religious figures, Sister Euphemia from Judy’s new convent school, and Father Patrick, Graham’s priest. Their negotiations of their religion with the tensions of the real world are an interesting counterbalance to Graham’s absorption in Catholicism as the means of his salvation and Judy’s.

Without giving away the plot of the novel, what becomes apparent in the last part is that Graham’s initial evaluation of what it means for Judy’s to survive is challenged.  Just as the novel explores in great detail the dynamics of a marriage under pressure, and the pervasive influence of memory and the past in shaping our present choices and how we remember what is happening to us right now, it also explores the dynamics of guilt about that survival. When Judy is labelled the Miracle Girl, she becomes the focus for everyone else’s grief and trouble, not to mention the focus for some equally faithless and lurid speculation about her family. Judy is positioned as responsible for the fates of others because hers seems to have been decided by God.

I would like to have read more about what Judy herself thought about that. We learn quite a lot about Judy’s experiences of her visions, but less about the impact of their consequences on her, such as what she feels about all the people who flock to her door. And while the author has evoked the social and cultural atmosphere of 1982 very effectively, for me there is a bit of a muddling in the narrative voice between the subjective stream of consciousness of Elaine and Graham in particular, and the omniscience of the writer, which occasionally makes Elaine and Graham sound a bit too objective about what is happening to them.

This novel will be about different things depending on who is reading it: about the internal pressures on a family in a crisis; a meditation on how teenagers and their parents negotiate changes brought on by growing up; about the difference between religion and faith and the sheer power of belief. Whatever you take away though, this book will make you think.

4 Stars.

Review by Evie Woolmore.

Lethal Inheritance

Lethal Inheritance
A scream pierces the night. Ariel jolts awake and watches in horror as demons drag her mother into a hidden realm. She finds help and sets off on a rescue mission. But to defeat the demons, who feed on fear and seek to enslave the human race, she must learn a secret esoteric wisdom to awaken the dormant, but potentially explosive, power of her mind. Walnut, a quirky old wise man, guides her through treacherous inner and outer landscapes, and Nick, the powerful Warrior who travels with them, proves a dangerous attraction. Can Ariel defeat the sadistic demon lord before he kills her and enslaves her mother? The stakes are high, death a real possibility. Fail now, and she fails humanity.

Reviewed 

November 13, 2012

Lethal Inheritance is an action-packed YA fantasy adventure.  The action and tension in the story start quickly with the abduction of Ariel’s mother by a demon, and her own narrow escape, followed by her quest to rescue her mother.  She is guided by knowledgeable and likeable characters who teach her ways to learn self-control and master physical and mental techniques  to find and overcome the demon who kidnapped her mother, Nadima.  Along the way on this journey of self-discovery, she and her companions / guides meet with various adventures and a variety of the demon’s minions, leading to plenty of action, great interaction between the characters themselves, and a bit of romance.  Most of the story is told from Ariel’s point of view, but in other places, the point of view switches to one of her companions, Nick.

Reading this story reminded me of two other books in particular (both very good ones):  Running With The Demon by Terry Brooks, because that also has a young female protagonist hunting a demon and other similarities, and The Lord of the Rings, because of the fantasy quest and the good against evil theme.  However, Lethal Inheritance has a unique blend of spirituality, philosophy and magical realism (or realistic magic) that the author has used to great effect in other books such as You Can’t Shatter Me.  It is these elements that make the story different and engaging to read.

The book was a fun read, seamlessly layered with philosophical themes adding depth to the adventure, with engaging characters and evil antagonists, a bit of humour and romance and great action sequences.

Lethal Inheritance is the first of a series, and I look forward to reading the others.

Reviewed by Richard Bunning 

May 11, 2015

5 Stars

Putting on young shoes, this is definitely a 5 star. Slopping in my comfy middle-aged slippers, this is definitely a 5 star. The writing is every bit as good as any hunk of Rowling’s fantasy, and if anything the plot has more originality. I have to admit to being a bit of a long-term fan of books that can mysteriously pluck me from everyday life and plunge me into the realms of fantasy. The escape into otherness, away from this all too real existence, to weird places that night’s illusions so often strive to go, is done very well in “Lethal Inheritance”.
If we wish we can explain everything as delusion, or the stuff of nightmare, or of chemical concoction, possibly as shadows on the edge of perception, or simply consider this fantasy as metaphor for some deep, private, spirituality. I can’t be bothered to dwell for long on such particulars, preferring to just get on with enjoying a very good tale told very well. Newland effortlessly draws us out of a suburban bedroom window to follow Ariel on the quest demanded by her destiny. Mental strength is the key to success, belief in one’s self, the learning to live with one’s fears and succeed despite them. The Serpentine, the snaking “river” of evil, may well have flowed into Australia through a gap in understanding that separates the land of “Dreamtime” from “La Serpentine” Mountain in the distant European Alps. Certainly the story, the invention, comes from a breadth of cultural mythology as wide as the physical distances between the Earth’s diverse landscapes. We all have to fight the snaking terrors that pollute life, some are fantasy and some real. Newland had my attention, possibly spellbound, held down by the demons, to the very last words, and now I have a sequel nipping at my ankle like a gimp. I don’t thing anyone is ever tot old and not for long too young,to enjoy this fantasy. We have romance, the swish of swords, the light of wands, the chill of fear, heroes and heroines, monsters in the dark, and always a connection to the city we know, just down the hill.

Reviewed by Katt Pemble

4 Stars

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