Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia
Edited by Anita Heiss
Non Fiction, Anthology, Australian, Indigenous
320 Pages
Published April 2018
Thank you to Black Inc Books Australia
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What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question.

Accounts from well known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart, sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect.

This groundbreaking collection will enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.
Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous Australians share a tumultuous history of colonisation, genocide and displacement from their land. European settlement by Great Britain has resulted in intergenerational trauma, associated violence and the trauma of the removal of Indigenous children from communities. Although Indigenous communities continue to experience displacement and injustice, the Indigenous identity is also celebrated. Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia reiterates that there is no singular Indigenous experience and shares the voices of our traditional land owners with compassion, consideration and celebration.

Ambelin Kwaymullina
Ambelin tells the narrative of growing up of the Palyku community of the Pilbara region of Western Australia among the purple hills, red earth and blue sky. A breathtaking and unforgiving landscape. Ambelin describes the prejudice of vintage Australia as unrelenting and although Australia is an evolving landscape of diversity, we must recognise privilege, reiterating the continuing barricades placed upon Indigenous Australians and the optimism of future generations to challenge society and the bias created and carried by colonialism.

Tara June Winch
Tara is a prolific Wiradjuri Indigenous Australian author, raised in saltwater country, her narrative of feeling displaced and realising her journey within her community as an individual. Using the Corroboree as a metaphor of Indigenous Australia, the sense of identity is often misplaced within the wider, white community. Being from the world and of the world. Her optimism for her own daughter prevalent and she shares the experience of three generations of Indigenous women. Inspirational reading.

Vale Alice Eather
Alice Eather was a beautiful spirit, a prominent Arnhem Land Indigenous community leader and activist. Plagued by anxiety and depression, a life taken too soon. Her contribution of Yúya Karrabúrra is exquisite. Her forefathers convicts on board the second fleet, her mother a Wúrnal woman and Alice, a child of the between finding her identity.

Now I welcome you to sit by my fire
I'm allowing you to digest my confusion
I will not point my finger and blame
Cause when we start blaming each other
We make no room for changing each other

Anita Heiss
Doctor Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, an accomplished and esteemed author of Indigenous literature. Throughout the introduction, Anita shares her experience of Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, the consideration of each submission and experiencing moments of interconnection and reflection. Igniting, uniting and inspiring reading.

I have been involved in early childhood Indigenous education through Indigenous advancement and children's leagues in Victoria, with an emphasis on the celebration of heritage alongside Victoria's most accomplished Indigenous educators. I'm Caucasian Australian of Irish heritage and through recognition my own privilege, it's imperative for non Indigenous readers to be reminded that support and compassion cannot replicate the experiences of Indigenous Australians. Compassion is not a substitute for the trauma and prejudice Indigenous communities continue to endure. We must condemn and challenge microaggressions and uplift Indigenous voices. 

With contributions by Tony Birch, Deborah Cheetham, Adam Goodes, Terri Janke, Patrick Johnson, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Jack Latimore, Celeste Liddle, Amy McQuire, Kerry Reed Gilbert, Miranda Tapsell, Jared Thomas, Aileen Walsh, Alexis West, Tara June Winch, and many more, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia is ground breaking, inspirational and essential reading.

Middle Grade Mini Reviews

Amal Unbound
Written by Aisha Saeed
Middle Grade, Contemporary, Diverse
240 Pages
Publishing May 28th 2018
Thank you to Text Publishing
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Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when, as the eldest daughter, she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens. After an accidental run in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal, especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realises she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.
In the small farming province of Nabay Chak, Amal is an inquisitive young lady with a penchant for knowledge. Inspired by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, Amal is an intelligent and inspirational young lady, the eldest daughter who is reluctantly coerced to abandon her education, her mother overcome by postpartum depression.

Amal appreciates her education, acknowledging the ideology that female education is frivolous although vehemently in disagreement. Challenging the educational ideals of her father and although their discussion remaining courteous, Amal is conscientious of the discrimination against females throughout conservative communities.

Jawad Sahib is a tyrannical and oppressive leader within the region, his affluent and privileged family beneficiaries impoverished families throughout Nabay Chai. Displaced by her insolence, Amal will reside at the wealthy estate as compensation, a young life of oppression and servitude. The secondary characters are vividly imagined, especially Fatima, an orphaned child. Fatima and Amal share a wonderfully tender friendship and surprisingly, finding a kindred spirit in Nasreen Baji, lady of the estate and woman within her own gilded cage.

Inspired by Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, Amal Unbound is a beautifully written and extraordinary narrative of one young girl and her determination to invoke change. Essential reading.

The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls
Huggabie Falls Trilogy Book One
Written by Adam Cece and illustrated by Andrew Weldon
Middle Grade, Adventure, Humour, #LoveOZMG
288 Pages
Published April 2nd 2018
Thank you to Text Publishing
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Kipp Kindle and his friends Tobias Treachery and Cymphany Chan live in Huggabie Falls, the weirdest town on Earth. Weird things happen all the time, that’s normal. But when an extremely weird thing happens Kipp and his friends know that something is wrong. They embark on a fast paced, action packed, hilarious adventure to find out what is making everything turn normal, and to return the weirdness to Huggabie Falls.

With an evil villain, Felonious Dark, a creepy scientist and a fierce wand wielding teacher, who has turned Cymphany into a baby hippopotamus, to contend with, not to mention killer vampire bats, vegetarian piranhas and a Portuguese speaking lab rat called Ralf, Kipp, Tobias and Cymphany have quite a task ahead of them.
In the small town of Huggabie Falls, nothing is out of the ordinary. An alliteration of names? Yawn, nothing to see here. Every street called Digmont Drive? Oh, perfectly normal. Late for class and turned into a hippopotamus? Commonplace. Kipp Kindle and his friends Tobias Treachery and Cymphany Chan begin to investigate a series of worrying accounts of normalcy.

The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls is a delightfully eccentric and whimsical mystery adventure. Reiterating the importance of friendship and embracing our differences. 

The Boy from Earth
Written by Darrell Pitt
Middle Grade, Adventure, Space, #LoveOZMG
256 Pages
Published February 26th 2018
Thank you to Text Publishing
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Twelve year old Bobby Baxter’s not the bravest kid on Earth. His list of things that scare him is up to number 689, and includes lightning, crowds, spiders, alien abductions, crocodiles, falling from great heights, falling from small heights and eggs.

So when he learns that he’s the first Earthling ever chosen to attend the Galactic Space Academy, light years away from home, he’s terrified and that’s before he discovers that someone at the academy wants the boy from Earth gone.
Welcome to the Intergalactic Space Academy. Bobby Baxter is a new cadet and the first scholar recruited to the Academy from Earth. A prestigious although compulsory achievement. Bidding farewell to his father on Earth, Bobby will journey to the expansive Galactic Academy. Expect the unexpected.

Interplanetary sabotage, Earthly misconceptions and a peculiar assortment of friends, Bobby endeavours to become the first Earthling to graduate the academy.

The Boy From Earth is a galactic, exuberant adventure, ludicrously hilarious and absurdly charismatic. Bobby Baxter is an irrationally apprehensive young man although intelligent and inquisitive. Throughout his journey, Bobby discovers courage and determination, an ability to conquer anxiety. Beneath the brilliantly absurd, entertaining adventure, is a narrative of compassion, solidarity and confidence.

Wildly entertaining for the adventurous middle grade reader.

Ash Princess

Ash Princess
Ash Princess Trilogy Book One
Written by Laura Sebastian
Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
448 Pages
Published April 24th 2018
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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Princess. Prisoner. Orphan. Rebel.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered. On that day the Kaiser took Theodosia's land and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess, a title of shame to wear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realises that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon, her mind is sharper than any sword.

And power isn't always won on the battlefield.
The communities of Astrea were decimated by Kalovaxian soldiers, captured or slain by the totalitarian monarch Kaiser. The Ash Princess comforted her mother in her final moments, the revered Fire Queen of Astrean, her young daughter and heir to the Astrean monarchy, held captive and tortured. Astrean Guardians were imprisoned, bludgeoned to an existence of servitude.

While her kingdom was ravaged by the Kalovaxian empire, Theodosia lived within her gilded cage, a prisoner to remind the Astrean populace of their enslavement and ownership. Adorned by a crown of ashes. Theodosia is not the quintessential heroine, rather a nuanced character acclimatising to her environment. Her only companion is Crescentia, her father The Theyn accountable for the genocide of Astrea and the massacre of the Fire Queen. Her name is Theodosia Eirene Houzzara, the Ash Princess. Queen of Astrea. Pursuing retribution for her sovereignty.

Prinz Søren has returned to Astrea, the revered young warrior proclaiming of conquered lands in the distinguished name of his father, the Kaiser. Crescentia is a formidable courtesan and aspiring monarch, destined to become the companion of the returning Prinz, strengthening the Kalovaxian militant capabilities. Søren is enamoured by enigmatic, unattainable Theodosia, the young captive dangerously and defiantly confronting his moral compass. Søren is captivated and although Theodosia reciprocates, she is determined to capture freedom for Astera. Despite her affections for the handsome Prinz.

A revolution carries upon the wind, infiltration of the palace and the promise to dissolve the Kalovaxian empire. Theodosia is a demoralised young woman enduring retribution for the whispers of the rebellion uprising, resistance among the enslaved Astreans for the genocidal colonisation of Astrea. Although Theodosia appears to be a demure young woman, there is an insidious ferocity to her endurance and determination. Her deception and fortitude is breathtaking.

Crescentia is a character of contrasts, her resentment of Theodosia, evasive and treacherous under the pretence of companionship, attesting to the inhumane treatment and slavery. Her purposeful ignorance is frustrating. Blaise is a wonderful character. Blaise was raised within the palace during the Fire Queen reign. Their comfortable companionship is a contradiction to her acquaintance with Søren. He has escaped incarceration and has infiltrated the palace to assist Theodosia in her escape.

The reoccurring theme of colonisation is momentous. The apprehension of assimilation and endurance of the Kalovaxian migration is devastating and antagonistic, portrayed with a compassionate realism. The Germanic references to the monarchy accompanies the atmospheric and political narrative, establishing an intensive impasse between characters. Ash Princess is an exhilarating narrative, exquisitely inspirational.

A breathing debut by author Laura Sebastian.

Defy The Worlds

May contain spoilers for Defy The Stars. Read my review here
Defy The Worlds
Constellation Book Two
Written by Claudia Gray
Science Fiction, Space Opera, Romance
432 Pages
Published April 2018
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia
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Noemi Vidal has returned to her planet, Genesis, as an outsider, ostracised for refusing to end the Liberty War by sacrificing Abel, the most advanced mechanical man ever made. She dreams of travelling through the stars again, and when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. The only soldier to have ever left her planet, it will be up to her to save its people. If only she wasn't flying right into a trap.

Abel, now fully aware of his soul and captaining his own Vagabond ship, never dreamed he'd see Noemi again, not when the entire universe stands between them. But when his creator Burton Mansfield delivers news of Noemi's entrapment, Abel knows he must save her, even if it means risking his own life.

Danger lurks in the dark corners of the galaxy, and Abel and Noemi will discover a secret that could save Genesis and Earth... Or destroy them all.
Weaponised biological warfare has incapacitated the communities of Genesis, the small and unassuming planet sanctioned for colonisation by the wealthy, indulgent and elite residents of Earth. Noemi Vidal is a once revered soldier of Genesis, understanding that her refusal to destroy the Genesis portal by sacrificing the life of Abel is confronted with hostility and ostracisation. Through the intergalactic gateway, the stars begin to fall, unleashing biological genocide.

Abel Mansfield is a Vagabond upon the Persephone, the prototype of entrepreneur Burton Mansfield, creator of mechanised humanoid military technology, now liberated from isolation. Burton Mansfield continues to pursue his prototype creation, capturing Noemi to coerce Abel to surrender, his conscious and humanity eradicated to ensure the survival of his surrogate father, Directive One. Created as a prototype, Abel continuously evolves, revered for his humanity and perception.

Earth has revolutionised humanoid technology, Organically Mechanised Automation's developed to accommodate the human conscious achieving immortality for the wealthy and elite humans of Earth. Organic humanoid engineering poses deliberation for Abel, an unprecedented paradigm. As Abel discovered his identity, he increasingly experiences a sense of alienation. The new technology appeals to his sense of acceptance and understanding the desire for parentage.

The terrorist organisation Remedy are prevalent throughout the narration, formulating the assistance of medicinal intervention while simultaneously capturing the Osiris, an opulent vessel from Earth carrying the elite to a distant world, including and entrapped Noemi. The considerable characterisation of Noemi and Abel throughout the series is captivating, predominantly as individuals and potentially romantic companions. I enjoyed the secondary character inclusions, Virginia, Harriet, Zayan, Ephraim and the daughter of Burton Mansfield, the nefarious Gillian Shearer.

The narrative challenges the definition of humanity, technological advances and religious faith. Earth is a technologically advanced environment, entrepreneurs privately sponsoring the exploration of habitable planets, the Earth increasingly unable to sustain life. On Genesis, the population are environmentally sustainable and spiritual. Although they possess ancient technology, the civilisation is not dependant on technological advances, preferring sustainability and natural resources.

Defy The Worlds is spectacularly atmospheric and imaginative, eagerly awaiting the breathtaking final instalment. 

Ace of Shades

Ace of Shades
The Shadow Game Book One
Written by Amanda Foody
Fantasy, Magic, Romance
464 Pages
Published April 23rd 2018
Thank you to Harlequin Australia
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Welcome to the city of sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets... And secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school and her reputation behind to follow her mother's trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead, the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected, he's a street lord and con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unravelling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she'll need to play.
New Reynes is notorious for the corruption of the innocent, a decrepit, polluted metropolis thriving on underworld corruption. Lourdes Alfero arrived in New Reynes on whispered secrets and a sheltered existence for adoptive daughter Erienne, attending a prestigious finishing school for young women. Sixteen year old Enne is a virtuous, aristocratic young woman pursuing her mother through the ostentatious streets of New Reynes, intoxicated by immorality, prohibition and inappropriate for modest young ladies of virtue.

Levi Glaisyer is the Iron Lord of New Reynes. Throughout the narrative, Enne and Levi develop a subtle companionship and attraction.  A machiavellian luminary and an endearing young man, Levi is a disarmingly charismatic, professional charlatan and the surviving affiliation Enne has to her adoptive mother. 

Each resident is recognised by their bisected capabilities, their abilities manifest through their individual heritage, from entertainers to illusionists to alchemists. Electrical currents are used as monetary value, extricated from the vitality of unsuspecting patrons of New Reynes. The corruption and anarchy of a metropolis is founded upon the illegal gambling industry. Within the kingdom, the monarchy and sympathisers were eradicated during the revolution, corruption infiltrating as the Augustine and Torren families reigned the Scarhands, Doves and the Iron syndicates. Beneath the atmospheric metropolis, an amalgamation of anonymous journalists whisper the atrocities of the anarchic new world, including the notorious Séance, a monarchist sympathiser. 

Characters are eclectic and diversified. A bisexual protagonist of colour, gender fluidity and socioeconomic representation, a gentle reminder of the importance of inclusion within young adult narratives. Unfortunately an instance of implied paedophilia is present. Unbeknown to Enne, she is coerced into a abhorrent and vulnerable position with a paedophile, believing she is immensely younger than she appears. Although condemned during the narration, it's confronting, uncomfortable and unnecessary.

New Reynes is atmospheric and distinctly imagined, a city of debauchery and immorality. Wonderfully portrayed, vibrantly diversified and captivating until the final page.

Dark Dreams. Australian Refugee Stories

Dark Dreams
Australian Refugee Stories
Edited by Sonja Dechian, Eva Sallis and Heather Millar
Non Fiction, Young Adult
224 Pages
Published September 2012
Thank you to Wakefield Press
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Dark Dreams, Australian refugee stories is a unique anthology of essays, interviews, and stories written by children and young adults. The stories are the finest of hundreds collected through a nationwide schools competition in 2002. The essays and stories represent many different countries and themes. Some focus on survival, some on horrors, some on the experiences and alienation of a new world. This book will have a key role to play in schools across Australia.

Eva Sallis's first novel Hiam won The Australian Vogel and the Dobbie Literary Awards. She is cofounder of Australians Against Racism and is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide.
Australia has a tumultuous history. In seventeen seventy eight, Australia was colonised by Great Britain, destined to establish the first European settlement in Australia. The Australian indigenous communities were decimated by violence, displacement and diseases introduced as a consequence of colonisation.

Australia is a multicultural landscape of migration. Since the White Australia Policy was abolished after the Second World War, over seven million migrants have immigrated to Australia, our population of twenty four million people comprising over six million immigrants, speaking over two hundred languages. A multicultural, multilingual country, forcibly removed from Indigenous communities, now imprisoning refugees escaping persecution.

Their journey to freedom is tumultuous, emphasised in the incredible Journey to Freedom written by Hai Van Nguyen, the winning entrant and one of over thirty narratives included in Dark Dreams. Fourteen years after arriving in Australia, the trauma of their journey remains.

We had lived to tell a story some never could. But the battle was not over, in fact, it was just beginning. We had fought with the elements and the authorities, but the real battle started the day we arrived in Australia. My parents have since learned that language barriers can be as insurmountable as giant waves, that exclusions leave a void far greater than the size of any ocean and that numbers last long after they have been removed. 
There’s nothing like having to cling to every bare breath, to see life reduced to a scarce trickle, to walk the tightrope separating life and death, at times not knowing one from the other. Very rarely do we get to see human nature stripped of all that it depends on to learn that human nature is itself enough.

Throughout each unfathomable circumstance, we are confronted by our own privilege and the mistreatment of migrants and asylum seekers. Dark Dreams is a collection literary memoirs from young, emerging authors chronicling the harrowing journey of immigrants and those escaping violent, ravaged communities from a multitude of destinations and circumstances. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Albania, Sudan and Germany. It is imperative for their stories to be recounted, to be heard. The human experience to be felt. Essential reading.

Amelia Westlake

Amelia Westlake
Written by Erin Gough
Contemporary, LGBT, Social Issues, Romance, #LoveOzYA
352 Pages
Published April 1st 2018
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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Harriet Price has the perfect life, she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating. Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet's ideas are good and they’ll keep Will from being expelled.

That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school. But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake and their feelings for each other a secret?
Rosemead Grammar is a prestigious girls college in the affluent lower north shore of Sydney, achieving academic excellence for young women of the wealthy and elite community. It is imperative of students to preserve the sanctity of the Academy and Harriet Price is the epitome of exemplary students. Harriet is an achiever, an enterprising young woman immersed within the community, a virtuous prefect representative of the academy. Wilhelmina Everhart is a social and political activist, challenging the archaic, nepotism of the administration of the Rosemead Grammar. Conspirators responsible for Amelia Westlake.

Amelia Westlake is a pseudonym, conceived to emphasise the predatory behaviour of a member of the teaching facility, a former Olympian and esteemed member of the community. The sexualised and indecent commentary of student bodies, innuendo and suggestive expression are disparaged, Rosemead Grammar absolved of their responsibility as the student concerns are disregarded.

The allegations of sexual intimidation and predatory behaviour are a significant component of the narration and encourages conversations surrounding boundaries, consent and abuse. The girls of Rosemead Grammar are conditioned to tolerate the behaviour, including Harriet Price. Harriet's awakening is admirable. Superficially, Harriet is a sheltered, wilfully ignorant young woman of wealth. Beneath the naive, effervescent facade is a compassionate, intelligent woman, exploited for her appetite for gratification. Their unequivocal attraction engenders an incident of unintentional unfaithfulness, each young woman is in a respective, female relationship, each concealing their alliance from partners.

Amelia Westlake is representative of young women who remain unheard, casualties of a patriarchal dominated society. A rudimentary and fundamental introduction to feminism, challenging socioeconism, elitism, chauvinism, institutional homophobia and ineptly, racism on several occasions towards a character of Asian appearance that was challenged belatedly within the narration.

Reiterating the importance of the overwhelming necessity to create inclusive, affirming environments, Amelia Westlake encourages dialogue and camaraderie, sharing ideologies and empowering young women.

Erin Gough, you are magnificent.

The Price Guide to the Occult

Contains sensitivities such as abuse, post traumatic stress disorder and self harm
The Price Guide to the Occult
Written by Leslye Walton
Magical Realism, Witches, Romance
288 Pages
Published April 1st 2018
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbours. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn the witch out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast forward one hundred some years, all Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope. First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price.

Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author, Nor’s own mother, looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.
Flames consumed Anathema Island as the Blackburn matriarch retaliated against the patriarchal society, men who colonised the small north western island. Accusations of witchcraft coincide with eight generations of Blackburn women, blighted abominations including the estranged Fern Blackburn.

Abandoned by her neglectful and abusive mother, Nor Blackburn is a wonderful young woman, friend and granddaughter, her grandmother and her partner creating a nurturing and environment. Although Nor is supported within a fostering environment, she continues to endure the torment and violence of her mother, comforted upon the harm she inflicts upon her body. Her anxiety is palpable and as the youngest Blackburn daughter, she was a causality of abuse and family violence.

The legacy of each Blackburn child is her ability, each generation fostering aptitudes from their matriarch. The village smouldered as the lineage is condemned to isolation, each Blackburn woman enchanting a lover for three days of passion to produce an heir. Fern Blackburn was consumed by her unwilling suitor, using incantations and her daughter as a blood sacrifice as entrapment. Fern has returned from isolation with The Price Guide to the Occult, monetising the Blackburn legacy, amassing a congregation of loyal disciples and darkness is descending upon Anathema Island. 

The mysticism is captivating, predestined to isolation through the legacy of their matriarch. The Blackburn name continues to be a formidable presence throughout the Pacific Northwest Islands. Unfortunately the narrative is incomplete. Characters are introduced without significance to the narration and despite the compelling compensation, the characterisation is rudimentary and the narration becomes monotonous. 

Although I enjoyed aspects of the narration, The Price Guide to the Occult is an exasperating novel. Unfortunately not for me.
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