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Sarah's Library

I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad).  The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.

Currently reading

The Last Honeytrap
Louise Lee
Progress: 100/346 pages
Complete Works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

South of Darkness by John Marsden

South of Darkness - John Marsden

6/11 - I'm a big fan of Marsden's Tomorrow series and I think this is his first full length novel since Circle of Flight, the final book of the spin-off series The Ellie Chronicles, so of course I picked it up at the library without even checking out the blurb. It didn't matter what it was about, it was John Marsden, what more was there to think about? Unfortunately, once I started reading I realised it wasn't quite as simple as that.

Supposedly this is Marsden's first foray into the world of 'adult' fiction. For me this isn't reading any more 'adult' than most of his Tomorrow or Ellie Chronicles books did. The main character is writing down his story at some point in the future, looking back at his early years and his struggles whilst growing up (despite being from a boy's point of view I feel like I'm still hearing from Ellie). The main character calls a place (strangely coincidentally) locally known as 'hell', home. The writing style reminds me of a project I did in high school, we were asked to write a series of diary entries from Juliet Capulet's point of view. That's what this books feels like to me. The writing is juvenile and unsophisticated and I think it sounds a bit like I wrote it.

I will finish the book because it's pretty easy reading and it is still John Marsden, but it's nowhere near the fantastic story I was expecting when I excitedly picked up the new John Marsden. To be continued...


7/11 - There is a LOT of talk about God here. Pretty much everything that happens to Barnaby is related back to god or a story from the Bible, especially the story of Job. I find too much God talk a bit wearying and it can put me off a story. While I'm sure God was a big factor in the average person's life in the 1700/1800s I'm not sure how likely it would be for a street person such as Barnaby Fletch to be thinking of God and how his life was being directed by him quite so frequently.

On page 217 Barnaby makes this slightly shocking statement

"Yes, the prisoners on the Hillsborough have stories of neglect and ill treatment that would make a man envy an African on a slave ship as having the better passage...".

Now, the reader doesn't know exactly what year this is supposed to be, sometime after the first fleet but I can't be much more precise than that. Considering that and the fact that Barnaby is supposed to be writing this at some point after his arrival in Botany Bay, after the end of his sentence I would imagine, I'm guessing the date could be somewhere around 1830 or 40. If you take that date guesstimate as fact then it's understandable that Barnaby would not know the full extent of what an African slave's journey would be like, but John Marsden surely does. If Marsden explains Barnaby's faux pas away as saying it would be difficult for someone in Barnaby's position to know the truth of the African slave ships (no phones, no history channel, no internet, etc.), then why did he include it in the story. If Barnaby doesn't really know what he's talking about why does Marsden have him say it? If Marsden believes what Barnaby is saying is true then he needs to do a little more research, concentrating on Zong, a British slave ship infamous for the 1781 massacre of 132 sick and dying slaves who were thrown overboard in an attempt to guarantee that the ship's owners could collect on their cargo insurance. To be continued...