There needed to be a positive ending to this story of the Pilgrim Family that started with I am Not Esther and continued with I am Rebecca and this is it.
Caleb and Naomi Pilgrim had 8 children and brought them up in the Children of the Faith religious Community headed by the despotic Elder Stephen. Their lives were dictated to by The Rule which Elder Stephen said was the word of god told through him. Chortle if you want.
The Rule rankled with all the Pilgrim children and divided their parents as it restricted freedom of choice and was an infringement on basic human rights particularly for girls and those who wanted to be educated. The Rule also proclaimed all who left the Faith to be dead and those who opposed the Rule would be damned and their mortal soul condemned in hell.
Needless to say the children were scared out of their wits but none more so than 12 year old Magdalene. She feels the pressure of the expulsion of brothe Daniel, sisters Miriam, Rebecca and cousin Esther real name Kirby. Now brothers Abraham and Luke are criticising The Rule but of greater concern is younger sister 7 year old Zillah who is a firebrand. Zillah says what she likes and tells Magdalene that she will run away and pleads for Magdalene to come with her. Will this happen? You will have to read the novel to find out.
Superbly written by Fleur Beale who keeps the tension on for the whole novel. Watching a family disintegrate is disturbing but the ending will bring tears to your eyes.
For readers of all ages from primary to high school. You will not forget this novel in a hurry. I do not often mention the cover of a novel but this one is superb.
This novel is so good I read it in one day. Fleur Beale’s writing is powerful yet so simple. The sentences are short the chapters are short, the subject is beguiling and the characters stand out like the figures on Mount Rushmore.
It is of course the sequel to the classic 1998 novel I am not Esther.
Rebecca who narrates the story and her twin sister Rachael are 13 years old and they have the essence of saints about them. They are lively, intelligent, caring, hard working and obedient. They live within the religious cult, Children of the Faith, led by the fanatical Elder Stephen and their lives are dictated by The Rule.
The Rule is grim for spirits like Rebecca and Rachael but they do not question and are totally honest in everything they do. The Rule despises “worldliness” and everything is done to keep women in particular under strict control. The girls see their parents marriage as lacking in laughter and intimacy. Their father makes all the decisions and their mother is expected to show example of how to be a good and godly woman.
The girls and the Pilgrim family move to Nelson after being educated in a state school in Whanganui and they are allocated the task of selling free range eggs and chickens at the Saturday morning market. At first they are nervous but learn to enjoy it. As they approach 14 years they are betrothed to boys of marriageable age. Fortunately both sisters like the boys chosen for them.
But then a series of incidents puts the religious community into turmoil and the girls have cause to rethink their options in life.
Stunning stuff with a stunning ending. A psychological thriller out of the top draw for high school students.
Resurrection by Mandy Hager. Pub. Random House, 2011.
In the previous two books Maryam, Ruth, Joseph and Lazarus have fled the idyllic Pacific island of Onewere which has been hijacked by a religious cult, Blood of the Lamb, led by the horrible Father Joshua and his equally horrible wife Mother Lilith. They have established their own Ten Commandments and adulterated the scriptures to secure their power and to convince the people that the word of man is really the word of God. How true is this in our world?
Many on the Island of Onewere especially the ruling family suffer from a blood disorder that requires continuous blood transfusions, and Father Joshua and his cohorts literally milk the local population to survive.
Ruth and Maryam were victims of the Blood of the Lamb cult and along with two sons of Brother Joshua, Lazarus and Joseph flee the Island of Onewere in a boat and end up in a country something like New Zealand. A holocaust has isolated the world and a strict regime rules in this country and they discourage immigrants.
Joseph dies of the disease but Maryam discovers a cure for the blood disease exists and can be made from a local plant. Lazarus is saved and Maryam makes her way back to Onwere to help her people and hopefully to end the power of Father Joshua.
It is a formidible battle and not for the feint of heart. Senior stuff this, but there is a love story running through it. The struggle to remove Father Joshua and the cult is brutal and macabre, but the ending is hopeful as it should be.
For those who have not read the first two books The Crossing and Into the Wilderness there is a summary for both in the front of this novel and in the back there is chapter 1 of both books to heighten your interest.
I enjoyed the novel but there is a lot of religious argument that may deter some particularly later in the novel but the action will drag you back in. You are with Maryam and Lazarus all the way.
Smiling Jack by Ken Catran. Pub. HarperCollins, 2010.
Robert’s father and uncle are killed in a motor accident in which they some how swerved on a bridge and went over the side into a fast moving river. They both knew the road well and the accident is a mystery. Ccould it be murder?
18 year old Robert is taken to the scene by the local police Sergeant, Sarge Peggy and finds the Jack of Hearts by the roadside. Is this a clue? The Jack had been given a bizarre smile and all other murders that occur in the book are accompanied by the same Smiling Jack. I wondered about this because the cover has the Jack of Diamonds on it. Perhaps I missed something.
It is suspected that Robert’s father and uncle were involved in a swindle in which clients money was used to convert into three million dollars worth of gold coins and these coins are missing. Where could they be?
The clients mostly reside in the small country town of Tucker and include the leaders of a religious cult called the Aten whose beliefs are taken from an ancient Egyptian religious leader. What do they know of the swindle?
When several other characters are done to death things start to look grim for Robert.
A classic whodunnit from Ken Catran told in his familiar style and frantic pace which characterised his earlier series on serial killer Blue that included Talking to Blue, Blue Murder and Blue Blood. These are quite brilliant and if you like this title try the Blue series.
Ken Catran keeps you guessing and as always his research into the Egyptology of the religious cult is faultless. His writing style keeps you reading because it is so effortless, and tension is maintained throughout the book. The ending is breath taking.
Will appeal to high school students and reluctant readers.