File Size: 1311 KB
Print Length: 189 pages
Publisher: Solstice Shadows (August 28, 2015)
Publication Date: August 28, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Sold by: Bookgoodies
Bears are perhaps literature's most widely employed animals in myth and story telling. Members of the species who've enjoyed major literary attention include Goldilock's nonplussed three bears, the New York-themed Yogi, the pantless Winnie the Pooh (I always found Winnie a bit disturbing), Baloo from Jungle Book and many others. In Sci-Fi, the most recent major ursine sightings were the grim polar bears of The Golden Compass. The roles assigned to bears encompass many different emotional states, from childlike to fierce. But I have never seen a bear portrayed as "ridiculous." They are far too powerful and imposing.
Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel is composed of four pirmary narratives interwoven throughout the story.The core story takes place in the here and now and focuses on Camille Matahari. We first meet her as she's moving into her new Manhattan apartment with several friends. The writing in this section is very contemporary and accurately reflects the self confidence of young urban women who feel they're on the cusp of great things and fully in control of their personal destinies. (I've met this class of female in the person of my daughter and her friends. As a father, part of me admired their unrelenting sassiness and optimism while another gritted my teeth at their naivete. It's all part of your Fatherhood training.)
Soon, however, it becomes apparent that there's something more inhabiting their cozy apartment space (and I'm not referring to the pervasive cockroach community that is a permanent fixture of the New York tenement scene). Unseen forces are attempting to communicate with Camille and at this point the book's narrative shifts to our second heroine, Camille's "Gram," Catherine.
The scene's describing Catherine's sojourn in Jamaica are the strongest section of the book. This narrative begins when the young girl, along with her brother and sister, is sent from India to live with her "aunt" in Jamaica, an evil character cast in the same mold as Mrs. Reed of Jayne Eyre and on a lighter scale, Aunt Petunia of Harry Potter.
The aunt is secretly renamed "Ugly Red" by the young Catherine and over the years imposes a regime of deliberate cruelty and suffering on Catherine and her two siblings. I found this description of Ugly Red's murder of Catherine's only friend, a small pet chicken, particularly heartbreaking and horrifying:
One day, Ugly Red trapped Taw under an old dirty bucket after discovering our playtime and friendship. Ugly Red wrung Taw’s fragile neck with a brittle crack. On her final breath, Taw’s head sagged to the side.
Ugly Red sniffed Taw’s dead body and then tied her feet to the clothing line so that she hung upside down. I watched, horrified, as all of the blood drained from Taw’s tiny body. She then proceeded to boil Taw and pluck all of her beautiful feathers. Afterward, Ugly Red laughed, licking her lips, as I cooked and fed her my only friend.
That's a bit of writing that stays with you a long time.
As the story progresses, Camille's hidden powers begin to manifest themselves and the four different worlds and times the book tracks begin to intertwine across the aeons. We discover the bears of the story's title are a cadre of protective guardians sent to protect Catherine and her ancestors from the forces of darkness represented by Ugly Red and her minions.
As I noted earlier, the other two narratives of the book revolve around a "present" and "future" Narvina, where much of the mystery surrounding Camille and Catherine is explained. However, since Bears is the first in a trilogy, I expect to see these other aspects of her universe expanded and fleshed out with the rich prose she is capable of writing. The story deserves it.
A word about the book cover art. I found it lovely and moving, a bright visual blend of pathos and primitivism, and very reflective of author Simone Salmon's Jamaican heritage.
Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier.
Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multisensory perceptions. She is also a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness.
Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things.
Folks can look for upcoming events such as giveaways and book signings on my website: www.ssalmonauthor.com.
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