Youngsters who have read the earlier stories of the young Australian aboriginal Wurrin and his encounters with the spirit-world, The Ice Age Is Coming (1977) and The Dark Bright Water (1979), will perhaps want to follow him through to the climactic encounter with death; but this is in every respect less successful than its predecessors--more amorphous (and less graphic), more fraught with portent (and less humanly appealing). In terms of characters, it's barely a story at all: at the outset, Wurrin is married to the water-girl Murra, and aware that he may not be able to keep her; at the close, she has broken free of the Yunggamurra, and thus his. In between he is called upon again by Ko-in, who first made him a hero, to deal with "a fiery-eyed thing that calls itself death"--but is, it develops, only a "little bit" of the real thing. Via spirit-journeys--heavily dependent on references to the earlier books--Wurrin at last has his innings with the fearsome Wulgaru in the cave of the dead; and, in saying "I am, I am," he breaks free. Even Wrightson's sonorous, emotive writing cannot make his more than a paper contest, however, In almost excluding the casual, pregnant exchanges that gave the other books their vitality, and virtually the whole element of personality (human or extra-human), she leaves readers in a ponderous fog of myth and elusive "meaningfulness."