Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Cliff Dreamers


Author: Jacqui Wood

This is a self-published book, available from Lulu by Jacqui Wood. I believe this is Jacqui's first fiction offering, having already written "Prehistoric Cooking". Jacqui Wood is an archaeologist, so it is not surprising to find the book set in a historical Europe.

I do have a few quibbles with the self-publishing aspect of this book, which I will get out of the way first. It is quite obvious that there was a lack of general editing as spelling errors can be found on nearly every other page; grammar is appalling and the tense can change several times within the same paragraph; and the narration also jumps from first to third and, most alarmingly in one paragraph to second, where the reader is addressed by the main character. I would dearly love to see a publishing hosue pick up this book just to sort out these technical quibbles. So, that's the critical part of this review over.

I had a wonderful time with this book. Not only was I drawn in by the turbulent life of its main character, Mia, but I learned quite a bit about Europe 6,000 years ago as the author effortlessly wove her knowledge of the period into the book. The story centres around an eleven year old girl, Mia, who lives on an island between Scanland (Norway) and Britland (Britain) which is fast disappearing into the sea.

Cliff Dreamers starts with Mia being chosen by the island's Shaman to be his priestess, an honour for most girls on Dogga Island, but not for Mia, who views this role as nothing more than slavery. Mia sits on her sand cliffs and wistfully watches the traders come in the their log boats and wishes she could travel far and wide with them. This soon becomes a reality when a fellow islander, Borg, discovers the Shaman's plans for Mia, who is not yet "of age".

Cliff Dreamers takes us along with Mia on her first ventures away from Dogger Island, and the various tribes she encounters with Kemit (the captain of the log boat in which she escapes), his crew and Borg. As the book progresses, we go back and forth from Mia's life on Dogger Island to her life at sea, trying to escape those who pursue her for her unusual magical powers.

The author is gifted when it comes to describing the various tribal settlements of neolithic times and I couldn't help but be drawn into Mia's world. I will be purchasing the sequel, Journey Through the Inland Sea, as soon as my finances allow. I will also be hoping that a publisher will pick up these books. I suspect the books will have a broad appeal because of the folding of history, archaeology, fantasy, magic and a thriller into one book makes them unique reading.

Rating: 4/5 (downgraded because of editing problems)

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