Our Eternal Curse, ANOTHER TRIBE

Our Eternal Curse, ANOTHER TRIBE, A historical, mystery war story e-book by Simon Rumney.

Plot: After a quote: “Racism is a virus that can only be spread by us”, the story opens with the battle being fought at Shiloh in April 1863, a fact that was of no importance to Julii because “she had not yet met Captain Robert Calhoun, the man who would teach her the white man’s language.” And “She was blissfully unaware that each step (she was taking) was taking her closer and closer to unimaginable heartache…” as she followed the path she had been following almost every morning as a papoose on her mother’s back or on foot, almost every morning of her eighteen years. She is one of the last members of the small Koasati tribe banished by the parent tribe and the Cherokee Nation to a hidden valley known as “a bad spirit place” in Tennessee. Julii’s grandparents were the original inhabitants banished because they had persisted in marriage against all dictates. The small sub-tribe had avoided the American government’s “trail of tears” that had banished all Indians from the eastern states because they literally had not been known to exist. While walking, Julii hears unusual thunder-like sounds with no clouds in the sky and when she arrives at the creek she sees a pink man in unusual clothes who has fallen from his horse with his broken leg caught in the stirrup – none of which she understands, but releases him, gives him water and finally is able to get him to her village where she nurses him not only for the leg but additionally a severe and infected head wound. During his recovery, the reader discovers that she is an extremely intelligent person with remarkable powers of learning and assimilation, and although as a Southerner and racially biased, he still manages to teach her a considerable amount of English. Upon his recovery, she accompanies him back to Atlanta. On the trip he becomes enamored and they indulge in heavy sexual activity. Upon arrival, she is treated as other non-whites, he is court-martialed for deserting his command at Shiloh, her testimony is unacceptable because the prosecutor says she is lying about the short time she had been able to learn the language, there are no Indians left in the eastern states, and besides she is an Indian and no better than the other non-white residents. He is convicted and she is abandoned only to be saved by an Italian Count who detests the manner in which the white population treats anyone not of their color. Also as the largest supplier of armament for the Confederacy through his modern fleet of steam blockade runners, no one interferes with him. He believes and then discovers, that she actually is a reincarnation of a member of his family going back to the pre-Roman era and the story evolves as Julii continues to learn and with her tremendous intellect becomes involved not only in strengthening his business, but for revenge devises a plan to defeat the Confederacy. Ultimately she obtains her revenge on the abominably racist southerners while dishearteningly discovering that many of the Northern Union officers are no better and she pays a highly significant price for her actions.

Discussion: The story moves very slowly and simplistically through the early stages of the book, but eventually gains momentum to provide an interesting tale of realism intermingled with fantasy, revenge, reincarnation and retribution mostly incorporated in the historical settings of Atlanta and Savannah during the Civil War. It provides fascinating recall of similarities in historically relevant mistaken war maneuvers and sets forth interesting conjecture on the loss of Vicksburg and of Sherman’s famous/infamous March to the Sea. And finally to sum up the author’s intent, from this reviewer’s perspective, is to provide a story that not only strongly censors racism but also weaves the tale of a young woman who is destined to endure: “Life was never supposed to be something predictable and safe or “normal”. Life is a series of uncontrollable and unfinished events. Longing for the day when everything returns to normal was simply a vain hope. Normal was chaos and the only way to find happiness within chaos was to accept it. To surrender to it, to live amongst it. To let it take its course. To allow events to be unfinished.”

Conclusion: A slowly developing tale providing multiple emotions that can, or cannot, be embraced, and at a level determined by, the reader. A caveat MUST be offered for individuals who find accepted verbalization of the day too offensive as it is presented by the author.

3* Slowly developing emotional tale requiring caveat described.

The Burnt Fox

The Burnt Fox
ISBN: 9781780363035, Peach Publishing, an e-book by Neil Grimmett.

Plot/Characters: Eliot and Donna with young son Bradley are living in a row house in the now somewhat deteriorated council estates. He is a former bass player in a local band and now a frustrated writer. She is a studying nursing, part time employed in the profession and a stanch believer in ‘women’s lib’. Their marriage is ‘shaky’ and when he finds an ad for employment on the estate of Philip and Clarissa Compton, they decide to go for an interview. They are accepted, provided with a house, salary and assigned their duties. He is a general handyman and servant doing menial jobs as well as caring for the horses and functioning as gamekeeper for the owner’s hunts. The mansion’s grounds here at Cloothill are extensive including a large farm overseen by Tobias, a rather crude person who can be charming to women and Donna finds most attractive. The Compton’s au pair, Rebecca, a young woman from Prague, is attracted to Eliot, as well as others, and he is to her. A number of lesser characters contribute to the action in varying degrees as the story progresses through the mundane activities as well as somewhat interesting and unusual activities such as dehorning, weighing and inoculating cattle, a fox hunt and pheasant gunning occasion. The finale is what could be expected but may be unfulfilling to some.

Discussion: A synopsis states this is: “Unflinching and sexually charged, The Burnt Fox is a startling depiction of the unsavory side of life in rural England.” This no doubt is true. However, underlying this fact is the author’s attempt to provide a tale wherein an overlying dark cloud is generated by an intangible feeling of the presence of an all-encompassing malignancy arising from past evil, and affecting all interpersonal activity within its realm. The attempt has been interesting and in part successful, but in this reviewer’s opinion, would benefit from a more thorough development of the characters, or perhaps even change some of them to an extent. As provided, they are ‘making excuses’ in assignment of blame for their actions and ultimate decisions. I suggest that individuals read this book, examine it from this aspect, and decide for themselves – are the protagonists ‘making excuses’ or are they really being affected by an ‘evil presence’?

Conclusion: A thought-provoking tale by an accomplished author that really ‘invites’ readers’ analysis. It may have lesser appeal for other than a British audience because of a need for the reader’s understanding/acceptance of the class system that to some extent still exists within this country.

3*     4* Tale ‘asking for’ reader analysis; 3* caveat – probably of greater interest to British readers