My reading list never shrinks. Not because I don't read - au contraire! For every book I read, I end up adding at least two more - either because I enjoyed the author so much, or because it referenced other work, and I can't resist diving down a rabbit hole of information. So despite being an avid reader, I'm never really on the lookout for new books to read. I have enough reading lined up on my shelves to fortify me for a nuclear holocaust.
But when I saw that J R Manawa - who I worked with on the Corner of My Eye music video - had her first novel published... I simply had to read it immediately. Though to be perfectly honest.... to me, the subject was irrelevant. Manawa is a thoroughly fascinating individual. A wonderfully diverse and compassionate person who is always full of surprises... and if a person who can surprise me writes I book.... that is a doorway to crawl into that person's head and perspective on life. How could that opportunity be passed up?
Emmeline is the story of a 21-year-old woman on a journey to discover what happened to her parents 11 years earlier and discovering that her birth was nothing more than a form of soul-harvesting. The novel was written as a 31-day challenge. Manawa was given random topics by her blog readers, and each day, she had to find a way to weave the random topics into her story. Although she had already developed the characters beforehand, the suggestions ended up hugely affecting their backstories in ways Manawa did not expect. For example, a fellow Kiwi gave her the topic "pohutukawa trees," which is New Zealand's Christmas tree. In Manawa's mind, Emmeline was never supposed to be from New Zealand, but this curve ball ended up adding another wonderful dimension to the book.
Emmeline is written for a young adult audience, but it is incredibly easy to re-envision this novel for a mature audience. In fact, as the main character discovers the mythology driven secret worlds hidden in London, the story hints of sub-stories that not only have the potential to expand the story in every direction, but to take it to extremely dark topics. One of my favourite chapters meets a slithering beauty of a character named Angula. Despite being one of the most likable characters in the novel, she is the owner/operator of a night club with a subterranean area where girls are auctioned off.
Of course, this makes for a fascinating character, but more than that, it introduces the subject of human trafficking to a young audience. Both Manawa and I feel that human trafficking is one of the most of the vile - and yet virtually unknown - horrors of the age we are living in. It's a subject that needs to be discussed if it's ever to end, and Manawa bringing this to the attention of the youngest generation is the highest order of an artist realised. If we can't shine the light on darkness, what the hell use are we?
No matter your age, Emmeline is an enjoyable read, and it's very clear that this is an author with a great deal to offer the world. Don't wait for her to make a name for herself before you check her out.... support her now and help her get there! You can find out more about Emmeline here.
TyLean Polley is an avant-garde recording artist. You can get a free download of her music. BUT BE WARNED…. you can’t unhear it! Visit FreeMusic.TyLean.com