Saturday, 15 December 2012

Black Spring

Black Spring by Alison Croggon (Walker Books)
PB RRP $22.95
ISBN 978-1-921977-48-0
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

With opening Black Spring, you immediately know you have stepped into another Wuthering Heights. That’s because this outstanding novel was inspired by that book. Alison Croggon has created a verbal and visual masterpiece. The sheer beauty of the magnetic prose and the outstanding descriptions of the rugged natural world won’t allow you to stop reading before the end. It is told in first person narrative by three of the main characters, Hammel, Lina and Anna.

It begins with the narrative of Hammel a poet/writer, who has gone to Elbasa, ‘a hamlet in the centre of the northern plains’ of the hinterlands, for solitude and to complete a manuscript of poems. He has unknowingly entered a den of evil and violence, betrayal and revenge, and ruthlessness, obsession and conflicting passions that envelope the lives of all the people at the Red House. But it is also a place of loyalty and unconditional love.

The story is spellbinding; made more so by the fantastic elements of the supernatural emanating from the character of Wizard Ezra and Lina, and the unrelenting demands of the Blood Laws and their Vendettas. ‘With Vendetta, a man must pay in two ways, with Blood Tax and with his life’.

It has extraordinary and powerful monologues throughout the book. If deconstructing, you might discover that this is also about the controlling role of men and their laws for the subjugation of the female gender, and the absolute suffocation of all their natural passions and feelings.

To try to elaborate further would do an injustice to a magnificence piece of work. I simply say, read this book! And look out for more of the author’s work.

For those who don’t know this author, she is more than an Australian writer. Alison Croggon is the author of The Books of Pellinor, a fantasy quartet, and a widely published poet. She has written and performed nine works for the theatre, including operas and plays. Alison is the founding editor of Masthead, a literary arts journal, and a critic, who trained as a journalist on the Melbourne Herald. She has also been published internationally.

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