Kraken Publishing, Australia, 2020
Aunt Enid is an unusual heroine in today’s popular fiction. She is in her seventies and is a protector of the world against evil, against the intrusion of other damaging and wicked worlds into ours.
I am not usually a reader of fantasy and so this was a good introduction to the genre – I applaud the author’s adoption of the older woman as her central and active crusader figure.
Set in stifling Adelaide, where conditions are optimum for evil to prosper, the story contains many references to science (as opposed to science fiction). Karen, indeed, has a background in science, ophthalmic science in fact. And so it is that the magical elements of this story are accompanied by real science elements including soil acidity, visibly measured in the colour of Aunt Enid’s hydrangeas, storm activity, the acidic qualities of honey and lemon curd and the work of bees. Climate change and the searing heat have provided the crack in our universe through which evil can enter to collect souls – don’t we all know it, now this summer if not before!
With her trusted friends to help, Aunt Enid must stave off the evil forces with magic, practical energy and good common-sense thinking. Not everything runs smoothly despite the back up team and her indisputable magic powers, and we are treated to a succession of deaths, dramas and battles, which in the end require ancient war machinery (the trebuchet catapult), the harnessing of ‘temperature warfare’ and the forces of the gnome army to bring things to a satisfactory conclusion.
Clearly we decide to accept the possibility of such things when we embark upon fantasy reading of any kind, whether it be fairy tales, myths of ancient telling, The Lord of the Rings or even modern interpretations of historical events. Suspension of disbelief is the reader’s friend in all fiction.
To sustain us as readers, we must also warm to our heroes/heroines and wish them well. In this book, we are not always clear who to trust, but we do trust Aunt Enid. The author has based her character on a mishmash of her own Great Aunt Enid and he Grandma Pearl and has written her with such affection and admiration that we cannot but cheer for her pluck, her humour and her lemon curd. The recipe for this is included at the end of the book.
We await the next in the Aunt Enid series in which Mr B. her cat plays, we are told, a significant role. Cat and magic lovers alike will understand the importance of the feline familiar whose cat-sense allows a cannily accurate interpretation and judgement of human beings and events.
Karen’s books are available in print and e-format at most online booksellers and in Adelaide city.
Thanks so much to LJM Owen who introduced me to this author via her Tuesday night TAF (Terror Australis Festival) booklove sessions on Facebook. These Facebook conversations with authors take place fortnightly and are free to attend.
More information at https://www.terroraustralisfestival.com/tafs-booklove-tuesdays