This is my first book review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016.
What a brilliant story!
It reminded me of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn (another favourite of mine). Set in a post-apocalyptic world a young girl with special powers has to face a machine which threatens to reveal the secrets that keep her loved ones safe.
In this instance, however, the main character, Ashala Wolf, is a young aboriginal girl – though in this world notions of race no longer have any real meaning:
“…there were different peoples, different “races”. Ember had told me about it, once – how things like my skin not being the same colour as hers, or the way Pen’s eyes were almond shaped, used to mean something. After the end of the old world,when there were so few humans left, everyone stopped worrying about things like that.”
Ashala Wolf leads a tribe of ‘Illegals’, children with special powers: Rumblers, who can create earthquakes; Skychangers who can cause lightning strikes, Firestarters who can – yep – start fires. It’s Ashala’s aim to not only protect her tribe, but also to shut down a detention centre where Illegals are being kept and interrogated.
There was so much to love about this story:
I loved the animistic world-view – everything has a spirit in this story, and a memory – from the Tuarts – great gums that remember the time before ‘the Reckoning’, to the machine itself – a device that carries the spirit of a playful puppy, though it has been collared and chained as Ashala has, and put to less playful purposes.
I loved the presence of the Rainbow Serpent – “I stood trembling as the massive snake slid upwards, it’s pale blue scales shimmering with rainbows in the light” – who tells Ashala: “I am your many times grandfather, one of the creators of your people” and who travelled the land after the Reckoning, collecting all the bits of life and remaking them.
‘The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf’ is well written, and had me hooked from the first line. I’m really looking forward to getting onto the next books in this series: ‘The Disappearance of Ember Crow’, and ‘The Foretelling of Georgie Spider’. Highly recommended!