Reviewed by Carl Delprat
Beneath the Mother Tree
by D M Cameron
Aug 2018, Paperback, 336pg, $32.99
A spine chilling mystery and a compelling love story? I thought this back cover had prepared me for such a tale, however from the first chapter these expectations were compromised. Cameron’s first novel is not your usual mystery/love story. For one thing, her book has seventy-nine mosquitoes (but no sand-flies or ticks) squashed between the pages and they certainly give this story atmosphere. In fact there are experiments with mosquitoes, mosquitoes in jars and cages; yes so many hungry bloodsuckers and all just a figurative screen door away from biting you.
A grief-stricken mother and son enter this rustic site unaware of its legacy and unknowingly are slowly drawn deep within the absorbing tale. The descriptive narrative is rich with vivid images and the intriguing sights, smells, and sounds of this picturesque setting. There is also frequent mention of black mud being alive with things breathing, mangroves aplenty, and sharp putrid tangs. This very descriptive story is full of dugongs, dolphins, cormorants and crows. Soldier crabs, blue blubbers, butterflies, dragonflies, mutton-birds, and seashells. There is also the local fauna: she oaks, hibiscus, cotton wood trees, ghost gums, Northfolk pines, and the most important tree on this island, a big Morton Bay fig; ‘The Mother Tree’ of the title.
There are also lots of moons: a colossal moon, a pink moon, a bent moon, a bright moon, a yellow moon and a grey scull of a moon. Cameron has done her homework and the effort and research make this an excellent novel.
So readers, reach for the Aero-Guard, best find some sun protection and get prepared for a tropical excursion. We are about to enter a world of rain forest bird sounds, coastline debris and sand between your toes, all flaunted within this cryptic and captivating island. I liked the measure of this story, it travelled along somewhat alike to a serialised radio play and only when I reached the end was this confirmed on page 327 under a brief description titled ‘About the Author.’ The characters are kept within an acceptable stage-play quantity and they all work and interact rather well with each other. One of them, an alcoholic has digressed into his own very private world of Celtic folk law and Scottish faeries blended within this local environment.
This is captivating literature, beautifully expressed and a delight to read. Cameron’s tale drifts along at a holiday stride. I truly enjoyed every page of this book.
About the reviewer: Carl Delprat is a prolific storyteller. His home is the Australian coastal city of Newcastle, New South Wales. Find his books at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CarlDelprat