Science fiction and fantasy
Walking The Tree
by Kaaron Warren
Botanica is extraordinary. The peculiar environment is intriguing, and the cultures that have evolved around it are depicted in fascinating detail. An apocalyptic event in the past appears to have left them all terrified of illness and deformity, and living in isolated groups with a reduced gene pool. Hints of the way things used to be are scattered around the island. But readers must pay attention in order to pick up on the clues about Botanica's origins, and the truth behind all the superstitions.
The Orders living around the Tree share some legends with the people of Ombu, and they are similar in many ways. But Lillah's journey is an exercise in culture shock. The ritual-driven societies in this book are very believable, in part because they echo the cultures of other real-life peoples. Reading Walking The Tree is like discovering lost tribes in the Amazon.
The pace is often sedate, with action that focuses on domestic themes such as food, births, marriage and gift-giving. However that's not to say this book is unexciting. There's always some crisis or intrigue going on in Lillah's life that keeps our attention. Lillah may not always be honest with herself, but she has the mind of an explorer and her curiosity makes her a captivating character. Her adventures can be explicit, though at the same time they're not in the least bit romantic.
Walking The Tree doesn't seek to appeal to our basic emotions with blood-soaked action, sugary romance or melodrama. Instead the book presents a puzzling world full of subtle mystery and fascinating people. Kaaron Warren isn't afraid to challenge readers to think, so if you prefer your fiction cerebral and highly original this book would be a great choice.
4th May 2010
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