Beneath Mother Tree

Review From User :

It's hard to believe this is a debut novel. The writing is very assured, the premise original and the atmosphere evocative and mystical. Set on an island off the SE Queensland coast with a small tight knit community, the balance of the island is disturbed when two strangers arrive. Marlise and her 20y old son Riley, mourning the death of Riley's stepfather have left their home in the rainforest and moved into an old house on the edge of a mosquito infested swamp swamp. Marlise is an entomologist who studies mosquitos so this is paradise for her but not so much for Riley who has had a very sheltered and lonely upbringing in the rainforest. Wandering around the island, Riley's beautiful flute playing soon catches the attention of Ayla, a young girl who's Irish grandfather warns her that he is the mythical Far Dorocha, servant of the Faery Queen of Irish folklore come to enchant her and steal her away. Soon deaths and strange happenings occur, disturbing the equilibrium of the island's community.

The combination of Irish folklore with indigenous beliefs and the overarching concept of the island's mother tree protecting them all works very well in this novel. The descriptions of the island's plant and animal life and the smells of the forest and the sea all feels very earthy and elemental. Ayla is forever rescuing animals and has grown up to love the island and become a part of it. She has been infused with her grandad's stories all her life but also with the stories of the lands first people told to her by her Aboriginal friend Mandy and her relatives. Riley is an innocent, naive boy who knows little of the world and has been overprotected and dominated by his mother who has secrets to hide and as the book goes on becomes more and more unbalanced. It's lovely to watch him fall in love with Ayla and feel the stranglehold his mother has on him loosen. Ms Cameron has successfully woven a wonderful tale steeped in myths and magic with one of romance, nature and madness.

With thanks to the author, D.M. Cameron for a digital copy of the book to read and review.

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