Books by Victor Kelleher

DOGBOY by Victor Kelleher
ANIMALS
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

A dog and her pup raise an abandoned baby boy in this philosophical tale that appears to take place sometime before Christ. Inhabitants of a nearby settlement who worship the Mountain God cannot understand why they're undergoing a long period of drought. Needing a scapegoat, Dogboy, who has tried to become a small part of the community, is made the focus of the villagers' superstitions. Bedazzled by a pair of (false) shamans, Dogboy makes it his goal to become their equal. He, his dog sister and a servant from the settlement named Magda set off. The implication throughout is that the rainstorms that occasionally provide relief are tied to Dogboy's emotions. When he undergoes a long period of believing he's a shaman and everyone else is beneath him, the land experiences an unusual drought. Is Dogboy special? Is he a gift from the mountain? Is he a shaman or a water finder or both? Kelleher keeps up the suspense in this cautionary tale on morality and what is truly important in life, and telling the boy's childhood in a fascinating way. The last half is slightly weaker than the first, because it's a very familiar cautionary story regarding ego and the need for wealth above all other things. However, there's enough here to interest thoughtful readers. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
RESCUE! by Victor Kelleher
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

Appalled by the experimental surgery on two baboons, African-American Jess and Australian David escape with them to the bush near where their scientist parents are working. Their barely formulated idea is to return the baboons to the wild; but Papio, with four electrodes in his head, is unnaturally passive, while big scars on Upi's chest betray why she has no stamina. At first it seems too soon to abandon them; even after both are adopted by a baboon tribe (along with the humans, who are accepted more warily), it seems necessary to protect them: Upi can't keep the pace when the baboons move on. Meanwhile, step by inexorable step, the young people become outlaws, stealing food from an African village and challenging the white hunter sent to find them—and to cruelly attack the baboons. In the end, battling the hunter, David and Jess lose sight of their purpose and unwittingly cause the destruction of the baboons. This Australian author (most notably, Baily's Bones, 1989) can be relied on for suspense—and for raising moral concerns in imaginatively provocative settings. The chief issue here is not so much animal rights as how a reasonable defense can degenerate into maintaining an untenable position at all costs. Meanwhile, some of the premises strain credulity, especially the ease with which the kids irrational—and then, in an epilogue, normal again. Still, a thought-provoking thriller with a respectable grounding in natural history and human nature. (Fiction. 11-15) Read full book review >
DEL-DEL by Victor Kelleher
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: June 1, 1992

Sam is seven, brilliant, and deeply disturbed by the death of his sister Laura. Quiet remaining sister Beth—neither brilliant nor beautiful—watches helplessly as he is possessed by Del-Del, a coldly mocking creature. At first this creature seems to be demonic—an exorcist tracks it to its lair in Sam's computer; then Del-Del is revealed as an alien from the constellation Delphinus, pure thought winged across the galaxy. Finally, with their parents near divorce and the family in uproar, Beth realizes the truth: Del-Del is the cold, hard place in Sam's mind that he has created to conceal his grief. In trying to free Sam, Beth has a serious accident. She promises that if she lives Del-Del will be gone. She does; he is. The songs Del-Del mockingly sings are all about death—``Who Killed Cock Robin?''; ``Ding Dong Bell, Pussy's in the Well''- -giving both readers and Sam's parents ample clues to Sam's real trouble. Still, it can be easier to believe in demons than in the depths of young grief. A well-plotted and engrossing portrayal of a child's inability to cope with death, from an Australian whose novels have consistently been of interest (Baily's Bones). (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
BROTHER NIGHT by Victor Kelleher
FANTASY
Released: April 1, 1991

A simplistic fantasy-adventure about mismatched twins whose appearance belies their relationship to good and evil. Rabon, foster son of village gatekeeper Dorf, discovers that reviled witch-woman Jenna is really his mother and that she has kept his gigantic, misshapen twin (Lal) alive in a nearby swamp since birth. After Rabon's supposed father—the handsome but evil Sun-Lord Solmak—kills Dorf and tries to kill him as well, Rabon and Lal set out on a quest that eventually leads them to the tideswept Forbidden City, inhabited by Solmak's dreaded giant brother, Luan. Meanwhile, the reader knows—long before the persistently aggressive Rabon does—that gentle Lal and Luan, despite their appearance and reputation, embody all that is good, while it is Solmak who is evil incarnate. Unlike Jacques in his books about Redwall, Kelleher makes it clear that violence, even in a worthy cause, harms its perpetrator. Other themes and the events on which they are based here are more confusing: Rabon never kills directly, but in the end his deliberate action causes several deaths from which he emerges unscathed, while his drive for vengeance—unmitigated by his growing affection for Luan and Lal—continues unabated until his abrupt reversal after Solmak's death. Moreover, the allegorical world—while vivid—seems philosophically muddled: e.g., why is peaceable Luan surrounded by vicious crocodiles? An interesting effort, but lacking the coherence and moral power of the author's Baily's Bones (1989). (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >