Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King, reviewed by Deborah L. Whitehouse

Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. 2014,  Hardcover, $20.73, Kindle $11.99 from Amazon.

In Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle we’re brought to a native reserve that’s only a ghost-town. It was chemically devastated by accident, looted and abandoned. What could  make Gabriel Quinn, the brilliant scientist who invented the chemical, to return to his former home, now known as The Ruin at Smoke River? Who is truly responsible, and why would anyone visit, let alone remain in the area?

Corporate CEO, Dorian, embodies corporate greed, sickness and evil. At the same time, an abandoned kid named Sonny never gives up his innocent hope for the return of breeding sea turtles to the once thriving tourist hot spot. Stubborn and resilient artist, Mara, paints her pain, while philosophic old soul, Nicholas Crisp, injects wisdom of the ages. Last, but not least, Soldier the stray, provides a special brand of doggy unconditional love to all. In a warm and magical way, Soldier provides love just as needed; seemingly, at the command of Crisp.

Award-winning, best-selling novelist, Thomas King has another great novel to his credit with The Back of the Turtle. King's rich story-telling and quirky characters transport the reader to another world, where Love Canal meets Native and Christian mythology.  Yet even as signs of life return to the area, further dangers loom in the offing. Current and edgy themes of environmental fragility and devastation, corporate greed and mental illness are cleverly and expertly woven and balanced by King, with traditional themes of love, hope, and healing. The reader is left wanting more. Perchance a sequel?

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Deborah L. Whitehouse  has  a keen interest in preserving nature and learning new things. She is happily retired after 33 years with The Niagara Parks Commission and is shifting her focus to creative writing pursuits.


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