The 'Poo Book Blog' Reviews Songlines for Books On Tour
Sunday 8 April, the 'Poo Book' Blog is delighted to introduce Carolyn Denman and The Sentinels of Eden series as a part of her Books On Tour promotion.
The Book: Songlines, The Sentinels of Eden Book One
Author: Carolyn Denman
Published: Aug 2016 by Odyssey Books
Available to purchase Angus & Robertson
Paperback RRP AU$23.95
For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.
The Intro: Welcome to the first stop on the Sentinels of Eden #BlogDash for Books on Tour. The ‘Poo Book Blog' is delighted to review Songlines, Book One of Carolyn Denman's young adult fantasy series, in advance of her latest release - Sympath (Book Three).
About the Author: Like many authors, Carolyn Denman comes to writing from a diverse background. Her major at University was science and she now works as a mortgage-broker. She indulges her creativity by writing fantasy fiction for young adults and also manages to run a hobby farm, raise a family and feed 63 baby axolotls! They say if you want a job done right, give it to a busy person. Carolyn Denman proves this adage with The Sentinels of Eden, a skilfully written, speculative fiction series.
About the Book: In the debut novel of this original series, we are introduced to a world of mixed mythology and supernatural powers, juxtaposed with the everyday realities of teenage coming of age. Songlines seems at first, like any other teen angst drama, magnified by the pressures of graduating high school in a small country town. The story soon takes an interesting turn though, with a tense run-in between heroine Lainie's Aunt Lily, and mining company Kolsom. The corporate power begins exploratory sampling a little too close to Lainie's family's sheep farm, in the Victorian Wimmera region. This opens a pandora's box of family secrets including the revelation that Lainie is in fact a Sentinel of biblical Eden, and she is sworn to protect the hidden entrance to this mythological world, located in the heart of country Victoria.
Like any work of speculative fiction, the key to enjoyment is suspending your disbelief. Fantasy fans will take this as a given, but I must admit the question for me was why Eden? It's a Christian construct. Why not The Dreaming - an Indigenous Australian mythology? After all, Lainie and her best-friend Noah, have indigenous blood in their veins, and one of the senior Sentinels is a local Aboriginal elder. Still, I couldn't deny that with the legend of Eden, Denman has drawn on a familiar Western paradigm to which readers will relate. She has then infused it with the concept of songlines - the indigenous spirit of care-taking for sacred land.
Songlines is readable and relatable. It grounds a fantastical course of events in the realities of an Australian farming community, where livelihoods are hard come by and communities are small, providing a strong sense of belonging, yet also the tensions of feeling trapped. Add to this volatile mix, four teenagers with raging hormones, family skeletons and identity crises, and you've got all the ingredients of great YA drama.
Every teenager (and even some adult readers) will identify with those early turning points where we must make big decisions in life, love and career, knowing that we aren't really ready for it. Will we make the right decision? Will Lainie make the right decision? Learning she is of superhuman origin and that the fate of Eden's safety rests on her shoulders, is an intimidating realisation. This, coupled with the fact that her soulmate is her worst enemy and her long-dead mother might actually be a nymph living in Eden, you just have to feel for this girl and become invested in her story... and her fate.
Book One sets up the series beautifully and leaves the story on a suitable cliff-hanger. Will Lainie give into the temptations of Eden, or will she choose real-life and love over a fantasy world? I am definitely left intrigued to read Book Two - Sanguine - and excited to hear that Odyssey Books have backed this Australian novelist's work with the release of a third in the series - Sympath.
Recommended For: Songlines is promoted as YA Fantasy for readers 12 and over and from a reviewer's perspective, I wouldn't disagree, but I would elaborate with a comparison of a peer-title from the same publisher. Elizabeth Foster's 2017 novel Esme's Wish, is also speculative fiction. It's dosed with realism but whereas I would recommend it for late primary and early YA readers with it's friendship-focus, I would suggest The Sentinels of Eden series is for a high-school teen audience, with mature themes of emerging identity, coming of age, violence and sexual attraction.