Brown paper packages tied up with string are truly among my favourite things and this week a brown paper package arrived bringing treasure - an eagerly awaited new book by a beloved New Zealand author I met on an online writers group - Belinda Mellor.
Silvana - The Turning is the second book in a 'fantasy autobiography', haunting, gripping and so atmospheric reading it surrounds you in the scents and sounds of the wildwoods, the smoke and fire of destruction, the pungent rankness of a country ravaged of it's greenery. I drank The Turning down in one sitting, following anxiously as the central family lived through the joys and struggles of a world so different - and yet so similar to our own.
I first read The Turning ages ago - chapter by chapter on the online writer's group, Scribophile, and now, reading it in paperback, it was intoxicating seeing the early work come to such a stunning fruition.
Set in a world where Silvana - tree woman - bestow fertility upon the land, and the central treasure is the amber that is their tears and blood - taken by force or bestowed willingly - the story follows the coming of age of a young man who's mother is a Silvana.
Watching how the machinations of others and his own youthful foibles interact with life in a world with a magical tree-heart, both in Lesandor's own green tree-blest country and it's tree-cursed neighbour, whose people killed their Silvana and in return inherited a land where no green grows, was fascinating.
Yes - there were tears. Unfortunately, mine were not amber. (Damn it, I'm not a tree-women? I'll settle for mer-girl.)
I know that images and scenes from the book will linger with me, both those that were stunningly beautiful and those that were searingly tragic. The world itself is so rich in lore and history, so intricately wrought and finely detailed that it seems incredible it does not, in fact, exist.
While I am distressed to admit that my youngest has already torn The Turning from the shelves and scribbled on it's frontispiece, the quality of the book itself - from it's gorgeous map (what is a fantasy book without a map - truly essential!) to it's lovely chapter headings and cover art - is a true delight.
From hence the duo (I'm hoping for trio in the near future) will be kept on a higher shelf and I know my little ones will read and love this highly original and compelling series when they are a little bit older.