Monday, 18 June 2012

Review: Dark Confluence by Rosemary Fryth


THE STORY
The small Queensland country town of Emerald Hills is under siege. Jen McDonald, a small, neat, almost-overlooked spinster in her fifties faces a quandary. Traumatised by a car accident after seeing a mysterious, dark-shrouded figure on the road, the last thing Jen wants to be is a heroine. Is she losing her mind, or is there a far more malign reason for the terrible storm, frightening deaths and vanishings, and other mysterious goings-on in Emerald Hills. Jen feels trapped, not only between warring factions of the Fae, but also by her desire for one of them and that she may be fated by her special gift to be the town’s defender.

Dark Confluence is an Australian-themed, short novel in the dark fantasy genre. It is a modern-day adult fable, and through allegory, it deals with themes of self-sacrifice and the acquisition of power at any cost. It is written for readers eighteen years and older.


MY THOUGHTS

The Basics
Above all else, Dark Confluence was a surprise. Being an avid reader of YA I don't usually find myself drawn to or identifying with older protagonists. There's something about Jen McDonald however, that hints at a deep seeded vulnerability and I found myself instantly drawn to her. Reluctantly content with a quiet life in a sleepy country town, Jen is the last person who would suspect that a freak accident could be the mysterious workings of a paranormal element. Gifted (or cursed depending on how you look at it) with the ability to see the influence of the Fae, Jen must work past the barriers she's built to overcome the disappointment in the life (and love) she could have had in order to save the town and restore order to the courts of the Fae.
        Dark Confluence is an easy read filled with affable and genuine characters. Jen is unassuming and quite happy with her lot despite the pain of her past. There's no self pity or angst in the way she conducts herself and for that I fell in love with her. Whilst most of the story is told from Jen's perspective, we do get an insight into the thoughts and motives of several other characters as well. There's a distinct lack of melodrama in Dark Confluence and yet the description was so beautifully simple that you can't but feel as if you're right in the midst of it all.

Dark Indeed
Rosemary Fryth does an excellent job of building the tension and atmosphere in Dark Confluence. It happens so slowly that it's almost imperceptible and then before you know it, you're submerged in a cloying fog that smothers every rational thought and you don't for a second see it coming. Silly me didn't realise this is a dark fantasy book and though there are some gory scenes, the worked to add another layer of depth to the often cruel and terrible nature of the paranormal.

Aussie Shout Out!
I'm so proud that Rosemary Fryth is Australian and that I've been to many of the places mentioned in Dark Confluence. This never happens with any of the other books I read so I'm having a fangirl moment here. And yes, the country towns in Queensland are that beautiful and full of those kinds of genuinely nice, neighborly people. Shame I live in dreary Melbourne.

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This
I'm not usually one to complain about lack of romance but if there's one thing that could improve Dark Confluence it would be some more fleshed out scenes with Fionn, Jen's smouldering Fae lover. They barely had any time together and I found it difficult to reconcile their feelings for each other beyond the physical. I'm hoping that there's a sequel to come despite the ending where the Fae world is explored in more depth.

THE RATING
8.5/10

27 comments:

  1. Sounds really good!

    I am having a hard time with what they are calling 'dark fantasy' sometimes they use it to describe UF that is more serious and darker, sometimes dark fantasy is gritty epic fantasy with less good guy morals, and sometimes it is used in the place of 'Gothic.' I should make a posty about that, maybe get some bloggers together to discuss it. :D

    Forgive the blah blah. :)

    Beth ^_^
    http://sweetbooksnstuff.blogspot.com/

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    1. You should make a post about it! I'm sure it would be an interesting discussion. The lines of fiction really have blurred.

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  2. I don't think Aussie authors get enough credit around the blogosphere -- I've never heard of this book before but it sounds so good! I'm usually more inclined to read a book with a younger protagonist too because I tend to relate to them more, but Jen sounds like a fantastic girl that's just as easy to relate to. But I also kind of like that we get insight into some other characters too -- that's always fun! :)

    Amazing and thorough review, Lan! I love how you split it up into parts! And 8.5/10 = 85% = an A in my school book! In short: all As must be read! ;) <3

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    1. I tend to shy away from older protagonists as well but when a character is well written I guess it doesn't matter what age they are. I don't know why my rating system has reverted back to out of 10! I'm going crazy.

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  3. I read about this over on Cathy's blog, and I was intrigued. What a great review! I agree, there are definitely a shortage of books that take place in Australia. I will get this book added to my TBR list for sure!

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    1. I hope you enjoy this one Camille. Australia books deserve so much more publicity!

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  4. Thanks for the review. This is the first I've heard/seen of this book. I'm going to look Cathy up on Goodreads. Thanks!

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    1. I really enjoyed this book so I hope you do too. I love reviewing lesser known books and sharing with people. Especially since I don't seem to be loving many YA books these days!

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  5. Wow, thanks Lan for the lovely review of 'Dark Confluence'! I'm so glad that you enjoyed my story. Writing in the genre of dark fantasy means that there must always be an undercurrent of horror or menace present - so romance, at least in this book, was always going to take a backseat.

    The sequel, 'Dark Destination' will have a stronger romantic element - so the story won't be quite as dark as the original, although the town and region still remain 'troubled'. Most of our friends from 'Dark Confluence' will be in it, and their characters and personalities fleshed out even more.

    p.s. Jen is tapping me on the shoulder and asking me to tell you that she and Fionn are very happy together now, and that she appreciates all the kind things that you said about her in the review. She also wants me to tell you that both she and Fionn are in the sequel, however the next story is all about Tom's grand-daughter Fiona.

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    1. Yay! I look forward to the sequel. Fiona is a great character to pick the sequel up from. Glad there's a stronger romantic element. I don't even know why I'm harping on about that. I don't usually care much about the romance. Either way I really enjoyed Dark Confluence and am anticipating the sequel!

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    2. Some characters in stories get under our skin in a good way - we care about what happens to them, want the happily-ever-after for them. It's great when that happens, when a character walks out of the pages of a book and the reader embraces them almost as a real person. I think this is what has happened between you and Jen. :-)

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  6. Oh, dark fantasy is always a very interesting genre! Seems like this is a good read! Hehe, it's okay to complain for lack of romance, Lan! Hopefully there would be a sequel to satisfy you! <3

    Awesome review, Lan! Although this doesn't sound like the book for me, I'm glad you enjoyed it! <3

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    1. I don't know why I got hung up on the lack of romance in this one. And there will be a sequel so I'm happy!

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  7. Hm. Interesting review, but it doesn't really seem like my type of read. Just something about the fantasy genre that doesn't really cut it for me.

    Thanks for stopping by,
    @ Livin' Life Through Books

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    1. Ahh Felicia, you are missing out! Fantasy rox!

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  8. Well, apparently you Australians can do no wrong! ;) I'm glad this one surprised you. I love when a book does that.

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    1. Yeah it's so much better than when you expect a book to be amazing and it's a total let down. Speaking of which, I'm about to review a book by an Aussie author that I'm not so fond of.

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  9. Really glad you liked this one! I know you're always on the hunt for good Aussie reads and I'm happy this one lived up to your standards. It's too bad more novels aren't set in Australia since so many readers do actually live there, or have visited there.

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    1. I'm like some kind of Aussie author stalker. I check out everything I come across from Aussie authors. It's a sickness. But I'm so happy I saw this on your blog and even happy with how good it was.

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  10. It's always so much fun when you recognize the places mentioned in a book! It doesn't really sound like my type of book--mainly because I have an unfair bias against protagonists who are substantially older than me--but I can definitely see why you liked it!

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    1. Define substantially Karen! I understand, I know you tend to stick to the contemps. I'm branching out and so glad to have come across this book.

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  11. (quavers)Ah, dearies, as an elderly "spinster" in my fifties I don't find any problem with relating to older heroines, myself - in fact, when I was much younger I loved R.A. McAvoy's Tea With The Black Dragon in which the heroine was a middle aged folk musician searching for her missing daughter with the help of a Chinese gentleman who was a dragon.

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  12. I guess we're all so fixated on YA we sometimes forget there's other stuff out there. ;)

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  13. Hey Lan!
    Alright, I'm in. I like Jen already! There's just something about an "almost-overlooked spinster." Love that description. Also, really digging that the fae's name is Fionn. It sounds like a new take on something (the Fae) that's been pretty much explored in YA. Great review; I'll have to check this one out!
    Ninja Girl

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  14. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh awesome review!!!!!! I haven't heard of this one before but it sounds interesting. Too bad I am too young to read it!!! The paranormal elements sound really cool and Jen seems to be a great character!!! Thanks for the honest review :-)


    Following your blog! Feel free to stop by my blog!
    SeeitORreadit

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    1. Hi Jaskirat, some of the themes in the book are rather mature (which is why I've rated it age 18+). However, if you are inspired to read it then perhaps you could ask your mum and dad to check it out first and then let you know if it's appropriate (since they know you best). I know when I was 16 I was reading some pretty adult books (in regards to themes and concepts) so you might well enjoy and handle Dark Confluence too.

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  15. Great review (somehow I missed this post). I tend to shy away from older protagonists as well but the way you described this book put all my fears at ease. The fact that there's no romance though makes me feel like I dont want to read it though. I almost always want some romance in a book (I'm a romantic like that). I love reading books not set in America and so this one interests me a lot for that reason. I feel like I can read it and feel like I've been to Australia when I actually havent. (Eventually I am going to go there! And when I do, I'm going to tell you and ask you where I should go to have fun!)

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