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Corroboree - Graham Masterton

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Author: Graham Masterton / Genre: Fiction

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      09.10.2006 18:27
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      An epic journey into the unknown and self-discovery

      I came across this book by chance. I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s the first thing that makes an impression on me. In this case I became interested because I saw from the cover that it was historical fiction, which I love.

      The author, Graham Masterton, is actually someone I’ve never read before – he seems to be more famous as a horror author or at least that’s what I knew him for. He has written 35 horror books but in total he has more than 100 books including thriller, disaster and saga.
      Born in Edinburgh, I was very interested to discover that he now lives in Cork City, Ireland where I grew up.

      Corroboree is of the saga genre, there’s romance, murder, adventure. At times it made me laugh out loud and other times it made me cry (sadness not desperation). The story is set in Australia in the 1800s when Europeans were still new to the land and there was little understanding between them and the native Aborigines.

      In the prologue we meet Eyre Walker and Charlotte, his wife, who are still suffering the loss of their baby son after twenty years. The disappearance is shrouded in mystery and Eyre seems to be keeping something secret. Does he know what happened to his son?
      After the death of a young aborigine the story becomes intriguing.

      I was a bit thrown by the prologue as I wanted to know what happened next but the story starts way back with Eyre’s arrival in Australia, his meeting and falling in love with Charlotte, and his ongoing battle with Charlotte’s father. The relationship between Eyre and Charlotte causes the death of an Aboriginal servant. As a result of his guilt, Eyre, wanting the boy to have a burial according to the traditional Aboriginal beliefs, sets out on a journey into the unexplored territory of Australia, a journey that will change his life in more ways than he could think possible.

      The strongest character in the book is Eyre who at the start is the usual happy-go-lucky youth, newly arrived in a strange land and ready to lead a normal life – he finds a job, falls in love and plans to get married happily ever after. After certain events he turns out to be a much deeper character with a strong sense of justice. This leads him through some tough situations and with each development in the story you can see him growing and changing dramatically. Masterson manages to get across this personal development and maturation very vividly.
      Charlotte in the prologue gave me the impression of an intricate, mysterious character but in the main story her character seems pale, petty and superficial and she actually annoyed me. By the end I thought that she was the wrong person for Eyre who turned out to be strong and vibrant.

      The insights that this story gave me into the ancient knowledge and ways of the Aborigines was extremely interesting and often incredible. It’s a story full of adventure and twists and turns, a page turner. Masterton has a way of describing that is so in-depth it makes you flinch at times, sometimes from disgust sometimes embarrassment. Some scenes are so explicitly described that they could make some people uncomfortable. I squirmed when someone was killed and with clenched teeth read the gory details. On the other hand, I loved his thorough descriptions as it made me feel involved in the story, like I was actually there.

      The plot is original and consistent. It’s a story that can teach you a lot if you’re willing to learn. The plight of the Aborigines, something that in truth I’ve never really thought about, touched my heart.

      JUST ONE COMPLAINT…
      I really enjoyed reading this book and hated finishing it, for two reasons. One, the usual not wanting a story to finish and two, the ending stumped me and left me shouting out ‘What? And what about the rest?’. It left way too many questions unanswered and I felt like I’d missed something. In saying that, I do know that some people are content with an ending that leaves you wanting more. I personally am always very disappointed with such an end. I like my endings to be truly rounded off with no trailing strings that keep me wondering what happened to such and such and why and where. One particular character in the story who was quite an important element to the story just disappeared – I can’t say who or in what way as it would ruin the story. I’ve never read any other of Graham Masterton’s books and maybe this is just his style.

      IS IT WORTH A READ?
      Well, actually, it is. I think knowing that the ending was going to leave me hanging would have helped me to not be so disappointed. The book itself is a substantial read full to the brim with legends and magic and love and will whet the appetite of anyone who loves historical novels as much as I do – I found this different to the usual historical novels I read though, the fact that it’s set in Aboriginal Australia gives it a different twist.
      I honestly don’t think it’s a book for everybody as it’s not exactly a light-hearted, holiday read – I brought it on holiday with me but couldn’t get into it until I was home again. Some may be turned off by some graphic details (such as how intestines were dripping out onto the grass and the sound of flesh coming away from the bone – I think you get what I mean) that can be hard to swallow – this from a person who absolutely hates horror so let me say each one to his own.

      THE MEANING OF THE WORD CORROBOREE
      I didn’t know the meaning of Corroboree and maybe I’m one of few but anyway I went and looked it up. Corroboree was the word used by early Europeans for an Aboriginal ceremony consisting of singing and dancing. The Aboriginal word is Caribberie.

      If the ending had been what I call an ending I would have given this book 5/5
      but as I found the ending disappointing I have to give it 4/5

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