THE DARK BRIGHT WATER

Once again we're in a present-day Australia beset by primordial spirits—with Wirrun of the People, who acquired heroic stature in The Ice Age Is Coming (1977), called upon now to put an end to all sorts of strange, restless stirringsabout. But the lot of a certified Hero is not a happy one, and Wirrun resists, clinging to his dismal city job as a pub janitor while his happy-go-lucky friend Ularra, who's not "clever," presses the case of their aboriginal People. It's a pregnant human situation, intensified by cuts to the spirit-world where another storm is gathering around a lost river-spirit, or Yunggamurra, of decidedly sirenish charms. Longing to get home, she sets to singing; and her songs somehow reach Wirrun's ears, and haunt him. Prevailed upon finally to journey to the Center of Australia—via a marvelous plane trip with Ularra and an old aboriginal emissary—he recognizes that the disturbances are real and he has the power to quell them. But not just by working magic: his restlessness and the land's are one, he must find and claim the all-troubling Yunggamurra. To accomplish this requires Ularra's transformation into a beast and his reclamation, and the "turning" also of the Yunggamurra—into a lovely, teasing girl. And while there are times when one wishes Wrightson weren't saddled with all this elaborate plotting, the situations are independently convincing, even compelling. Can Ularra, once a beast, be wholly human again? "Can't ever be sure, can we?" he says at one point, with an unsteadiness, a tragic insight, that the old Ularra would never have known. Wirrun, too, begins to accept the role thrust upon him, determined "to go limping, if he must limp, with strength and courage." This ambitious enterprise—which will obviously continue—makes one glad at times that Wrightson has extended her reach into the perilous terrain of the aboriginal Beyond.

Pub Date: March 9, 1979

ISBN: 0689501226

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1979

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A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

FOR THE WOLF

Twin princesses—one fated to become a queen, the other a martyr—find themselves caught up in an unexpected battle of dark magic and ancient gods.

Four hundred years ago, a Valleydan princess facing a loveless betrothal sought refuge in the Wilderwood with her lover, the Wolf. The legendary Five Kings—including her father and her husband-to-be—pursued them only to be trapped in the Wilderwood. Now, according to legend, the only hope of restoring the Five Kings to power lies in the ritual sacrifice of every Second Daughter born to Valleyda's queen. There hasn't been a second daughter for 100 years—until now. On her 20th birthday, Redarys accepts her fate and walks into the Wilderwood to become the Wolf's next victim only to find that the stories she grew up on were lies. The handsome man who lives in a crumbling castle deep in the forest is not the original Wolf but his son, and he wants nothing to do with Red or her sacrifice. Afraid of her wild magic abilities and the danger they pose to her sister, Neverah, Red refuses to leave the Wilderwood. Instead, she clings to the new Wolf, Eammon, who will do whatever it takes to protect her from the grisly fate of the other Second Daughters. Meanwhile, in the Valleydan capital, Neve's desperation to bring her sister home sets her on a path that may spell disaster for Red, Eammon, and the Wilderwood itself. Whitten weaves a captivating tale in this debut, in which even secondary characters come to feel like old friends. The novel seamlessly blends "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast" into an un-put-down-able fairy tale that traces the boundaries of duty, love, and loss.

A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-59278-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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