Seeking Reviews for World/Historical Fiction - Native Companions: Dreamtime Mysteries
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Native Companions: Dreamtime Mysteries
By Jenni Barnett
Published: August 2018
ISBN: 978-1984500502 (pb)
ISBN: 978-1984500519 (hc)
Genre: Fiction, World Literature, Historical Fiction
The prologue is a death-bed scene, where Rex Graham and his parents say goodbye to his beloved, Aboriginal grandmother. The young man promises to fulfil Granelda Yaraan’s dying wish to complete his doctorate degree in anthropology. While on study location in the Central Australian desert, Rex discovers a small Aboriginal artefact lying in a dry creek-bed bearing the markings of his tribal totem, whose territory is located in the south-easterly region of the continent.
On his return home, he lays awake, tormented by a vision of Gran’s face, urging him to discover the lost tribal dreamtime legends. He is planning a walkabout to the neighbouring bushland at Yaraan Grove, where an ancient, sacred tree is located, the resting place of his grandmother’s ashes.
Keen to discover some ground-breaking information for his thesis, Rex suddenly remembers a collection of old paintings that his Gran had treasured, promising to preserve them for him, until he was able to interpret their true meanings.
Rex crept down to the library safe, carefully unwrapping the very old parchments and spreading them out on the floor. There were 24 in all, a couple of mythical characters: a bunyip and a bird man known as a keeng-keeng, a hand-sketched map and a mountain journey. The artist was Gran’s great-grandfather, yet he could obviously read and write, because he had labelled some of his works in English language.
After carefully re-packing the collection, Rex returned it to the safe, before sleeping soundly till day-break,, when he loaded his back-pack and waved to his folk before departing on his journey of discovery. Rex spent the day exploring the magnificent lakeside National Park, but by evening, he was disappointed that he had not uncovered any clues about his ancestors, who had occupied the territory, other than the old scar-tree where his grandmother’s remains rest, where a carving of the Booran totem ear-marked a large rock. Rex envisages Gran’s face in the scar on the tree-trunk, caused by Aboriginal boat-crafting. Feeling intoxicated by the bush atmosphere, he spreads his swag and reclines under ‘Gran Yan’s’ canopy.
As Rex falls asleep, the bush comes to life and Gran Yan shares stories with the young trees about the adventures and dreamtime legends of the Booran tribe, that she learned from ancient priests who shared the mythology at corroborees.
The book is separated into six parts, each containing a glossary of characters involved in the odysseys. The preface contains an overview od Australian indigenous society, their philosophy of living, cultural traditions spiritualism, and language.
An index of tribal connection, names and a glossary of mixed Aboriginal languages and meanings are included at the end of the book, including a bibliography.
24 hand-drawn illustrations created by myself, are peppered throughout the book to keep the reader visually connected to events and characters as they transpire.