Where do I begin with this heart-achingly, lovely book that moves between utter despair and glorious hope? Once I started, I couldn’t put it down – the prose and sto
ry captivating me in a way I haven’t been for a long time. Not only that, but I found myself shedding tears I didn’t even know were gathering. Some were from sadness, but others were from the joy descriptions of simple things arouse – like a beautiful flower opening its petals, a painter’s palette summer sky, the cry of a native bird, the sunlight refracting on a river. It was unexpected, quite astonishing and testimony to the power of Ringland’s writing and the magic this tale weaves around your soul.
So, what’s the book about? It tells the story of young Alice Hart who, at nine years of age, suffers a shocking tragedy that forces her to leave her childhood home and the oft dark memories and wonderful stories that reside there, and relocate with her grandmother, someone whom she’s never met before. Like Alice, her grandmother, June, carries dark secrets, secrets borne from a deep maternal urge to protect those she loves and which is reflected in the flower farm she runs and, even more significantly, in the broken women she takes under wing and who work for her. Known as The Flowers, they too have secrets and histories that both bond them and, in an attempt to shed the past or at least reconcile it, cause emotional pain. Among these women with their love of stories and each other and the gorgeous flowers, Alice finds a modicum of peace, many more stories to nourish her soul and even love – that is, until something occurs which catapults her into a future she neither imagined or wanted.
From fields of sugar cane and the deep rolling ocean, to the flower farm by the river, and ultimately, central Australia replete with its chthonic magic and ancient stories, the book spans over twenty years. It explores different kinds of love, our connection to place, how stories shape us, how secrets do as well. It also examines the choices we make – good and bad – and the consequences of these upon both the individual making them and those they inevitably affect. It’s about residence and forgiveness as well.
This is such a soulful, gorgeous book that it’s hard to put into words how it made me feel. All I can say is that my signed copy (gifted by my publisher – and signed to me personally by Holly – thank you, Holly) is something I will treasure. I have also bought the book for others so they too might share in this enchanting novel.
There’s no doubt that Ringland is a voice to watch – poetic, powerful and moving – one that has the ability to take the reader on a journey that doesn’t end when the novel finishes. If that’s not an accomplished storyteller with a great gift, I don’t know what is. Cannot wait to see what Ringland produces next.
Tags: Aboriginal myth and legend, abuse, Australia, betrayal, choices, farms, fire, flood, love, NT, ocean, power, QLD, resilience, stories, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland, violence
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Having loved Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series and setting my sights from an early age on wanting to be a mermaid when I grew up, I couldn’t wait to read Grant’s latest book, Into the Drowning Deep.
When a ship, the Atargatis, destined to shoot a mockumentary in the mysterious Mariana Trench, intending to expose mythic deep-sea creatures – in other words, mermaids – as real, loses its entire crew in horrific circumstances, the whole affair is, basically, hushed up as a hoax. Nonetheless, there is shocking footage a few a privy to which tells a different and dramatic story, just as there are those who suspect that the crew stumbled upon something they shouldn’t have and paid the ultimate price.
Fast-forward to seven years later and another ship and crew are assembled by the same entertainment company that launched the first. Only this time, the purpose is to find out once and for all what the real fate of the people on board the Atargatis might have been and if what those who have witnessed the footage believe could possibly exist. Tying up the rights to any discoveries, scientific, televisual and otherwise, there are audiences to be entertained and good ratings to drive as well as a great deal of money to be made should all go according to plan – whether or not mermaids are real is, to the powers that be, secondary in the scheme of things. Included among the assembled crew are colleagues of those who never returned the first time and the embittered sister of the entertainment company’s face of the previous doomed voyage, Victoria. Determined to find out once and for all what happened to her beloved sister, Victoria, now a scientist, is also hell-bent on revenge.
The crew, scientists and others chosen to partake in this new voyage all have their reasons for being there. Friends and enemies are made, professional competitiveness rears its ugly head and all the problems associated with living in close proximity on a ship, even one afloat on a huge and dangerous ocean, come to the fore. But not even the petty jealousies and rivalries of the group can prepare them for what the deep is about to unleash upon them…
Packed with knuckle-biting excitement, characters that you love and loathe for their strengths and flaws, science and pseudo-science, this novel is a page-turner par excellence. The explanation for the crew’s discoveries, the fate of those on the former vessel and everything that happens once the Mariana Trench is reached is gratifying, nail-biting, frustrating and heart-stopping all at once.
Even though I don’t think I want to be a mermaid anymore, I couldn’t read this fast enough.
Recommended for lovers of sci-fi, fantasy, reimagining of myths, environmental impact novels, or just a darn good read.
Tags: enterainment, film rights, hoaxes, Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, Mariana Trench, Mermaids, Newsflesh, ocean, science
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