Rating: 4.5 of 5
Author: Wendy Gilisse
Despised due to his Tzanatzi heritage, Rom made his living as best he could by trading and selling goods in the northern and southern Einache villages alternating between them as the seasons changed. However, while preparing to travel North directly through the bordering forest, Rom learns that this journey has become increasingly treacherous as an evil presence felt once long ago appears to be rising once again. An old Einache farmer named Yldich befriends Rom offering to accompany him on his journey. Soon Rom learns, however, that Yldich is more mage than farmer having the ability to commune with nature, call upon the animals, and sense the very fabric of all that surround them. When Rom starts to experience his own dreamwalking, he begins to wonder if perhaps his meeting Yldich is something more than a simple chance encounter with a good Samaritan. In fact, Rom learns he may hold the answer to a five hundred year old curse that threatens to destroy the lives of the Einache and Tzanatzi alike.
Wendy Gillissen’s Curse of the Tahiera is a unique and fresh offering to the fantasy genre. In this debut novel, Gillissen pulls from her experience as a psychologist specializing in dreamwork and past life therapy. Through Rom the reader slowly discovers the possibilities of past lives and the impact on their contemporary vessels – how decisions made long ago have far reaching implications. While fantasy elements are present, this novel is really a character exploration of a young ostracized man dealing with his negative self view so long forged through the eyes of others and their prejudices. Through Yldich and his own inner journey, he begins to view himself and his past self differently giving context to a life previously without meaning.
Gillissen’s pace and plot unfold in an effortless manner keeping the pages turning at a rapid rate. Her detailed and carefully considered narrative and use of Tzanatzi and Einache languages help to envelope the reader into this unique world. The passages where she shares Rom’s emotional and physical journey through his first intimate experience and later love interest are exceptionally well written. Rom’s journey to the underworld is especially well crafted besting that offered by Phillip Pullman in The Amber Spyglass.
Curse of the Tahiera is a complete volume although Gillissen provides a few teaser pages for the sequel The Search for Tzanata to be published soon. I for one, look forward to its release.