Never follow the Min Min Lights; they would lure you away never to be seen again.
Half Past the Moonfall by B.M. Matthews
From page one, I fell in love with B.M. Matthews’s voice,
her characters, and the quirkiness of their lives. A fresh, original voice is hard to find in today’s fiction, where most authors write “for the market,” using formulas that have worked for others, and few dare to step out from the vanilla norm. Matthews is a risk-taker, and the pay-off is a fun, quirky, magical adventure like no other.
Katéa doesn’t start out as the kind of heroine I readily identify with, but she quickly evolves into someone as real as my sister but not as annoying. A thoroughly modern 21st Century city gal, Katéa is transported to a realm where pixies and elves abound, but cell phones do not. What Katéa’s new world lacks in modern technology, it makes up for in magic.
And Graven. Ah, Graven!
The mysterious local comes to our heroine’s rescue, welcomes her attentions, gives her the brush-off, welcomes her attentions again, seems to be as attracted to Katéa as she is to him, but something keeps Graven from acting on it. Could the troubling little fact that she was magically transported to his world by the Min Min Lights have anything to do with his resistance to her charms?
I love this city gal's pluck. And her rationalizations: of course she shouldn’t try to follow the Min Min Lights, but if the things ‘lured her away’ like the stories told, it wasn’t any real worry; “if worse came to worse the phone had GPS and luckily, the phone was at full battery.”
Ha! Readers know this is like asking “What could go wrong?”
The story begins with Katéa trying to enjoy herself at a hippie nature retreat, which she’d never visit if her friend Sarah hadn’t twisted her arm. She comes with a huge social media presence and an expensive dress she’s wearing for the first time: “white, soft, and delicately embroidered with lace and makeshift pearls.” When she sees the legendary Min Min Lights, she does what everyone knows you’re not supposed to do: she follows them, all the way into the bush--because, hey, she’ll go viral on youtube if she posts footage of the Min Min lights!-- and you guessed it, that fabulous dress is not going to survive. “It was a classic bo-ho dress, and now… now it was a boo-hoo dress. It was coated in mud …”
Matthews has an instinctive command of Deep POV (Point of View), a technique that separates novices from natural-born storytellers. Rather than explain what it is, I’ll show an example of it:
“Sarah would pull her aside and spew some more nonsense about how they weren’t the Min Min Lights, that they were actually her spirit guides and they were guiding her to inner wellness… or some hippie shit like that. Because spirit guides lured their chosen ones deep into scrub-land all the time!”
Need I mention that Katéa is a pistol - a spunky heroine with lots of snark and great one-liners? I love the etymology of “pixie haircut” and the inside jokes about Disney, which may be a magical kingdom, but who on earth doesn’t know and love the many characters of Disneyland?
No Spoilers from me, I promise, but you need to buy this book just to see what a Pixie Phone Charger is. You’re not gonna like it, but in a sinister and wicked way, you’ll secretly love it, no matter how hard you try to un-see the phone charger.
You will also want to google things like Min Min Lights. Of course it’s a thing! A real thing, not a figment of some Aussie writer’s imagination. Of course I googled it and soon found myself heading to Twitter to follow an Australian neuroscientist who solved the mystery of Min Min lights, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, a fellow in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. His latest book, “Karl the Universe and Everything,” is published by Pan MacMillan.
But you won’t be sidetracked for long. You’ll want to get back to this page-turner of a tale.
Even if this story didn’t carry the reader along at a breathless pace, I’d be hooked just for the voice. From the first page, I was laughing, and thinking this had to be the voice of an Aussie author. Sure enough, B.M. Matthews is an Australian! I love the wit, the snark, the subtle word choices that set their English apart from America's. E.g., bogans and sh^tquid.
I should do an Author Interview and save Matthews’s comments for my own blog, but I’ll share them now because the world needs to know B.M. Matthews. She replied to me:
“I'm trying to be distinctly Australian in this. :) I usually repress it because most of my social life is lived online, and I discovered very quickly that no-one except another Australian really understands a thing an Australian says. - I still remember the first time I ever voice-chatted to non-Aussies. It was about 12 years ago and most of the chat room was comprised of Americans with an odd Brit thrown in. The Americans were absolutely baffled by me and my voice. I spoke too fast. I used strange words and shortened everything and added 'o' to the end. My accent didn't help any. There are a few different Australian accents, and we're not really ‘raised’ with them per se, at first maybe, but our voices tend to change depending on who we're talking to. But I narrow it down to three - the Steve Irwin, the Bogan, and the Posh. The Posh is mine, which is kind of British-sounding but has the distinctive Australian twang to it.”
I bought this novel even though I no longer have a Kindle to read it from. My second Kindle has died of old age, as did the first one, and Customer Service tells me there are no upgrades for these antiques. I wanted to be sure Carol’s Third Kindle is up and running before I buy another ebook, but I also wanted to be The First to Review this book, and I wanted it to be an Amazon-verified purchase. And no, I never read on my cell phone or whole novels via my laptop, so this is no consolation:
During NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month (an annual November event in which thousands sleep-deprived dreamers all over the world setsout to write a 50,000+ word novel in one month), I started reading this story one day at a time, one chapter at a time, as it was being written.
I kept sending @kaelci comments like this one: “Oh man. I want to be reading this via my Kindle, highlighting favorite passages. Or google-dox, letting the author know how much I love it - especially lines like this: ‘She had imagined just your average-sized household spider, but for something to have lived in giant-arse tunnels like this, with that much spiderweb excreted from its behind, still lingering after all these years…”
I’m trying to do justice to this story. It’s so much more than a comic romp in Min Min Land. It’s filled with dire events, desperate villains who’d stop at nothing to achieve their goals -- and a very real concern about the gap between two worlds. Here the gap is surreal, but it works as a metaphor. Since Romeo and Juliet, we’ve known the all-too-real problem of culture gaps and star-crossed lovers.
Five-star story. Only three dollars, and it’ll last longer than that coffee you might spend a few bucks on. Buy with confidence!
All right, I'm buying it NOW, and trusting that it will transfer over to my next Kindle, which I'm desperately in need of. (Oasis, or Paperwhite... I still miss features of my very first Kindle... a light-up screen is a must. That rules out the $79 Kindle... color, I can live without. Audible books: some reviewers say it doesn't work as promised on the $129 model.)
And on a final note, I look forward to more from Aussie author B.M. Matthews. I hear she has another novel in progress, titled Vengeance.... right here at Steemit!
on publishing your NaNoWriMo novel! For those who missed out, it began like this:
You can see my review at Amazon (why does it take Amazon so long to post my reviews?) or Goodreads (which immediately posts my reviews!) I'd love to have you hit "Like" at the end of the review, but for your reading convenience, I just posted the review here as well. Upvoting costs nothing at Amazon and Goodreads, but it goes a long way toward building my reputation as a reviewer. Hey. I'm not getting paid for this. Seeing my ranking rise from the bottom five million to the top 10,000 at Amazon took some serious effort. It ain't easy to become a Vine Voice reviewer. It isn't just books that I review....
Writers, be sure to visit @freewritehouse
for more of the adrenalin-rushed aura of fellow authors supporting each other and working toward a common goal: writing AND publishing!
You could start with this post:
Thanks to all the Steemity community members who support one another. One of my new favorites is #theluvbug. For a long time it's been @curie and more others than I can list. To get started finding more of our supportive Steemians, follow @mariannewest, @thealliance, and @freewrite.
And now for some shameless self-aggrandizement,
I invite you to follow my reviews at Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, or Steemit, or wherever you find me. I'm all over the place.
Your feedback is my only incentive
to keep spending so much time reading books and writing reviews. Eg., here is a short Tweet from an author that totally made my day after she read my Steemit review of her book:
Ah, this is why I take time write and publish book reviews--always unpaid--to do otherwise is unethical).
Thank you for reading!
because Kean sounds like Kane (not keen, hint, hint)
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