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As you know, I was bitterly disappointed when Satalyte shut up shop as it might have meant the end of my admittedly short career as a publi...

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

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The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as e-books from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

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The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Book Review: Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell

Wind FollowerWind Follower by Carole McDonnell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This review first appeared in the now-defunct webzine, The Specusphere, in October 2009.

Wind Follower is Carole McDonnell's first novel, but prior to publishing this book, she was already established as a reviewer and essayist. She has also written poetry and devotional pieces, mainly for Christian journals. Her Christian faith has also informed her speculative fiction work, and this is very apparent in Wind Follower.

The story is an adventure-romance, set in a richly imagined world. Boy (Loic) meets girl (Satha), boy loses girl, boy goes to ends of earth to find girl, and finds his own true purpose en route. The setting is a kind of alternate Africa, or perhaps it stands for any country ripe for colonialism. McDonnell has analogously incorporated all the earth's races into her continent, representing them by the very dark Theseni; the lighter coloured Ibeni, the slant-eyed, yet sometimes red-headed Doreni and threatening all of them, the invading Angleni.

The Juno imprint is noted for its strong female lead characters, and Satha, the heroine of Wind Follower, carries the role well. She has to deal with more perils than Pauline, more trials than Job: in fact at one point she is so obviously an avatar of Hagar, Abraham's concubine, that we are looking for someone to play the role of Isaac. But although the book has a curiously Old Testament feel to it, the parallels are not distinct: McDonnell's references gently investigate possibilities and move on, as we follow the journeys of Loic and Satha through alternating first person chapters.

Mc Donnell is a fine writer, and Wind Follower leads us to expect even better things from her in the future. The story is burdened, however, by a certain falling down between two stools – or actually in the middle of a circle of stools. We have a classic epic journey, involving a romance and a coming-of-age story; an equally classic captivity scenario, in which the enslaved person survives through her own fortitude and resilience, and a rather self-consciously overlaid effort to show that faith conquers all. At the end, we learn that the Tribes never succeeded in uniting against the Angleni and remained the underdogs, yet they rejoice that the Angleni brought their own true religion, encapsulated in the Lost Book, back to them.

And here's the problem. What readership is Wind Follower aimed at? Many Christians, black and white, are likely to balk at a theology that is very like that of Christianity, yet does not follow it nearly closely enough for the tastes of fundamentalists. On the other hand, many fantasy readers of whatever ancestry will reject the book's overtly Christian allegory, and some black readers who are not Christians may be dismayed at the oblique suggestion, normally propagated only by the conquerors, that as long as invasion brings True Religion it is acceptable. Yet still other readers, not all of them Christian, will feel uncomfortable at the idea of spreading a what is supposed to be a religion of peace through invasion and, the conquered people having accepted that religion's tenets, ignoring them in order to rebel against the invaders. Like the Old Testament, Wind Follower abounds in mixed messages, and this is why it falls in the middle of those hypothetical stools.

Yet there is probably a niche market for books like this one, and it is, I would venture, among Christians who are not fundamentalists and who are willing to consider that perhaps parables can be spoken in the language of fantasy as well as that of religion. A tall order, perhaps, but I hope McDonnell finds this readership. An author who can produce a work such as Wind Follower deserves to have an extensive circulation.

McDonnell can be found on Facebook and at http://www.darkparables.blogspot.com. Her work will not be easy to find in Australia: however, Wind Follower can be found for sale at online shops.


View all my Goodreads reviews

3 comments:

Carole McDonnell said...

Thanks so much, Satima

Carole McDonnell said...

I think most Christian minorities or Christian First World peoples -- Christian aborigine, Christian African, Christian Native American-- would understnd Wind Follower. That's what I wanted to show -- the conflicted dark-skinned believer who truly believes the religion brought by the white man. This is not really a niche book though, although to whites it might be. Most Christians are non-white. Most Christians have had to deal with the fact that white missionaries and imperialistic governments destroyed their ancestors. But white fantasy writers and white christian writers have not concerned themselves with our stories from our POV. Instead we get stuff like avatar, shown from the conqueror's pov.

Satima Flavell said...

It's a pleasure, Carole! I was worried when The Specusphere went down that people looking for reviews of books that weren't covered by the big guys would be short-changed, so I'm gradually re-publishing the ones I wrote, here and on Goodreads.

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