Hard Survival in an Unforgiving Landscape

Pencil sketch - Casa Destino - June Guenette (2)

It’s a pleasure to have a book reviewed by a respected fellow author. A couple of weeks ago, I received just such a treat for my newest release – Maelstrom.

5.0 out of 5 stars The damage we humans can do …, 24 Jan. 2016 – By Mari Howard

Maelstrom (Kindle Edition)

As a fan of Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake series, I was interested to read this new book, a collaboration and edition of her late mother’s manuscript, Maelstrom. Before purchase, I already knew from the author that it would be a very different novel, and of course wondered in what areas.

The story, which has been outlined by other reviewers, takes place not on the Canadian West Coast but in some arid, desert-like part of the USA. I was never sure where, but thought maybe New Mexico? And like Crater Lake books, in a small town setting, but a very different one. The town is dominated by its ruthless, amoral sheriff, though as the plot progresses we learn of the network of complicated relationships and special interests which has intensified his rule.

Like the Crater Lake books, all turns on the damaged personalities involved, and how they interact: but in this setting, the damage is lethal, and the results are far more violent. It is indeed a book which surveys how tragically violent and destructive human beings can behave towards one another. The view of human is by no means the “Rousseau” one that we are all basically good: most of these characters could be said to be basically bad, weak, or both, and the author doesn’t hold back what we as a species are capable of, especially in male attitudes and actions towards women.

However, it is also a Francis Guenette book despite the differences. We can still discern her psychological training, experience, and knowledge, her concern for the fate of the mixed-race and Native Americans, her feminism (to give a name to something more subtle than that), and her ability to weave the consequences of damaged personalities for good or for destruction. This, as the story progresses, becomes increasingly obvious, and makes the book a page-turner. Her love and respect for wild and domestic animals is there. She also weaves into the story a theme found in the Crater Lake books – a boy who has what can be called ‘second sight’ – though it may have other names.

Recommended, unless you are a reader who prefers a rip-roaring good crime/adventure story to a study of how it is to be human in an isolated township and an arid setting. This is hard lives, hard survival, in an ‘unforgiving’ landscape. But it ends with some hope.

Arizona - Bruce Witzel photo

Mari Howard is a UK based writer and author of Baby, Baby (The Mullin’s Family Saga – Book One) and The Labyrinth Year (The Mullin’s Family Saga – Book Two). Check out my Amazon.com review of Mari’s book, The Labyrinth Year.

Baby, Baby Cover                                Labyrinth Year Cover

4 comments on “Hard Survival in an Unforgiving Landscape

  1. Am reading it now. Great review.

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