Archives for category: Zillah Bethell

Published by Piccadilly Press.

I love rain. I was staying with my uncle on his farm in Laikipia, Kenya some years ago and my cousin complained that the ‘rains’ hadn’t come. I offered to encourage the weather with a rain dance. George was a pragmatic farmer and African, and he laughed at me. The next day he complained that though it had rained, it hadn’t rained on his tomatoes. So, I promised him more for that night, and danced a dance in the middle of the courtyard…like I have never danced before… or since, to be truthful. I don’t do much in the way of dancing.

The thunderstorm that occurred that night was like nothing I have ever experienced. Loud, all-pervading, and glorious! I couldn’t hear my Mum when she spoke directly into my ear…and the smell was, well – quite sumptuous.

I have always liked the rain, in preference to the sun – so much more going on.

This is a new dystopian volume from Zillah Bethell (author of A Whisper of Horses) – in an era where water is the rarest commodity in the world and as a result those who have water, or are able to use distillation plants to obtain fresh water are at war with those who don’t. This is the background to this multilayered story of a young boy with achromatopsia, a condition which results in the suffer being totally colour blind. They see the world in a spectrum of greys and whites – a rainbow means very little to them.

At the beginning of the story Auden’s father is away fighting in the war. His uncle, a scientist has recently died and left his cottage to his family and Auden’s mother has moved them from London to the country.  Which is when this really begins.

The book raises various questions and ideas, beliefs and thoughts: Does everything have to have a purpose? Is that why things exist? What makes a thing a living entity? What makes us human?

The ideas include the fact that for the most part, humans are kind and truthful and wise and decent and that we should recognise difficulties for what they are, and press on regardless.

Achromatopsia is a real condition – though suffers, the Internet informs me, not only have an inability to see colour, but other aspects of their sight are also affected. Particularly when in bright sun light, and though this is something that Auden also has to deal with, the idea that he is able to see better than someone without it, in poor light, seems not to be the case.

This is a story about doing what is right. Believing in yourself. Friendship, bravery and sacrifice.

 

 

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Published by Piccadilly Press.

It is 03.09 in the morning. Dark. Silent, apart from my oil heater clicking gently behind me. I woke a while ago to continue reading this extraordinary volume.

This is a story set in Grey Britan, after the Gasses. The world has changed, things are not as they once were. Lahn Dan is contained within the Emm Twenty-five and there is nothing beyond.

‘there’s nothing outside of the Emm Twenty-five. Everything outside Lahn Dan is Dead.’

People and society have changed too.

The Aus live lives that are easier than most, though much of their world is fake. They are secure. Have hot water. Fresh food and their grass is green. They have been changed to look like the people of history, those known for their looks. They are beautiful. The Cus, meanwhile, are only able to use technology to support the Aus, and Pb they are the lowest of the low. They work. Have nothing, but stories, are almost illiterate, don’t eat food, but consume small pills for sustenance. Their grass is a sort of muddy brown colour.  They are set apart.

Aus – gold, Cus – copper and Pb – lead.

Lahn Dan to Serendipity is a place of darkness, filth, and hard-work. A place of bridges over the Tems – which she knows used to be one of the largest rivers in the world. Serendipity has never seen a river, but she has heard about them. The Tems is now a thick line of mud, used to dispose of anything unwanted, whether human or otherwise.

London is filled with images of horses. The National Gallery contains, of course, that stunning picture Whistlejacket by Stubbs, along with many others, including The Horses of Achilles, by van Dyke. Then there are the statues: Richard III on horseback outside the Houses of Parliament. The horses in the sculpture entitled Animals at War in Park Lane – there are thousands of them. Lahn Dan is filled with them too..

This book was a serendipitous find. I saw a brief glimpse of its existence in a piece of ephemera at work. Then sent out a plea for a reading copy – a proof, any form of this book for me to read. The author responded promptly and sent me a copy of the hardback – which I took home the day before yesterday, and started to read last night.

I am now just 55 pages into the book. I can’t leave it alone, yet am having to stop, every now and then, because I’m worried about what Serendipity has done, who she has met, and what decisions she is about to make. There are many characters who can and without doubt will affect the run of this story – and one I am in particular, a member of the Aus society, of whom I am most suspicious.

The book quotes a poem I read at school entitled The Horses by Edwin Muir –

We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited, 

Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent

By an old command to find our whereabouts

And that long-lost archaic companionship.

 I have ridden horses. I have been snuffled at. I have been examined and in turn gazed back, into those gorgeous eyes. I have been trusted. I have ridden like the wind, my mount and I as one, both together. In a small way, I have been part of that archaic companionship. This is a celebration of all of that.

The paperback is due out on the 25th of this month. I’m afraid I prefer the hardback’s dust-jacket to the cover of the new edition coming out – it is perhaps less eye catching, it is perhaps more traditional.  A book though, is more than its cover, as we all know – so  if you can find a copy of the hardback before the 25th of January – then buy it (£9.99).

If not, then order the paperback (£6.99).

I suppose it isn’t long till the 25th of January.