In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew, illustrated by Den Scheer (
HB RRP $29.95
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
A boy retreats from the beasts and heroes, unconquered and other, from within his computer games to venture into the forest for the first time to experience a real adventure. The beech trees are as unfamiliar as the untrodden path: primeval and haunting. This journey through the unknown is a test of courage for the boy.
Although imaginings flood through him, heightened by the strange sounds, and the images of bones created by the fallen branches, his courage pushes him forth. He recalls his fear of the darkness, and the dread of his computer characters coming to life when he closes his eyes to sleep. But his mind calms his fears by rationalizing each sight and sound.
A vibration beneath him rises and reaches him like a living, breathing thing; the heartbeat of nature. He comes across what he sees as ‘basalt runes from the dawn of time’. He could be within one of his games were it not for the heartbeat. He touches the earth and acknowledges the surrounding massive stone formations and the history of life they hold.
He now has seen things more powerful than those in his games and he connects with the primal force of the forest. He has conquered his fears.
There will be many interpretations of this story. Only the writer knows the truth. But does it really matter? The preciseness and beauty of Gary Crew’s prose remains unquestionable. He has aptly chosen Den Scheer, three times winner of the Artist of the Year Award from 2009 onward, to interpret his work in black and white using graphite and woodcutting. That she began this work at sixteen years old is testament to her great gift which hasn’t yet reached its full potential.
Den’s preference for her art work is graphite. The bold, exciting illustrations are framed within what appears to be stone. It’s a dark, macabre interpretation, gothic in its images, but breathtaking in its detail and expression. In the Beech Forest is another collectable work of art.