Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Journey from Darkness by Gareth Crocker #review

Title: Journey from Darkness
Author: Gareth Crocker and Llewellyn Crocker
Publisher: Penguin, 2012

For those who have a deep, abiding love of the African bush and its denizens, father-and-son duo Gareth and Llewellyn have whisked up an evocative tale that’s sure to gain an emotional reactions from sensitive readers.

Somehow twin brothers Derek and Edward made it through the trenches of World War I. They find their way to Africa where they get involved in a pioneering conservation project. Elephant poaching is at its height, and the majestic tuskers are being butchered, and brutally so.

Existing almost as complete opposites to the twin brothers are a pair of poachers, incidentally also brothers, who are also survivors of the Great War. Only they didn’t quite transcend their personal darkness, which fuels their bloodlust as they go about the dismal business of poaching elephants. A little too conveniently, the authors paint these two out to be stereotypical storybook villains complete with tattoos and a fixation with death-dealing and sadism.

Derek and Edward soon encounter a wounded, almost mythical desert elephant, and Derek, with Edward’s support, gets it into his head to accompany the pachyderm in her overland quest, ostensibly to protect her from poachers but also, to a degree, I suspect to conquer his own sense of purposelessness in the aftermath of the war. It goes without saying that he’s going to lock horns with the poachers, who know only cruelty. But Derek’s no pushover, and he goes about exacting revenge.

The thing that marred my experience of reading the novel was that at its close I encountered serious point of view issues. I then had to go back and reread a number of sections just to figure out particulars, and even then I became quite annoyed because there would have been an easier way to get around the problem. My main gripe: characters withholding key information in order to create suspense.

Technical problems aside, however, Gareth and Llewellyn have touched upon certain topical issues – such as mankind’s impact on Africa’s wildlife, and whether the end justifies the means when it comes to resolving some of them, and just for that, Journey from Darkness is bound to elicit some thought-provoking dialogue among readers.

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