Intricate and intriguing; a chaotic fun…
Thrilling and entertaining, Campbell-Mason’s latest novel is a deft exploration of the forces that either wrench people apart or bring them together in community. Quarantined off the coast of Spain on their cruise ship for two weeks, Ella and Warren become friends with another couple, Asta and Henry, who invite them to visit Jakarta and stay at their home. Their trip to Jakarta soon takes a strange turn after the members of the Free Aceh Movement, a low-caste resistance led by the passionate Wayan-tiger who’s seeking recognition for his tribe, kidnap Warren. The author takes her time putting all the pieces into play: resourceful women, abused lower castes struggling for recognition, a brutish ruler of a kingdom brought to the brink of collapse, a faithful son who has had quite enough, kidnapping, along with a sociological subtext of culture barriers, casteism, individualism, and resistance. The book can seem confusing at times, particularly in the beginning—the seemingly disparate storylines begin abruptly with various characters’ backstories pouring in—but Campbell-Mason executes the plot successfully, bringing all the different threads together to form an impressive whole. Her expert prose, authentic secondary characters, and vivid imagination keep the reader invested. The narrative unravels and expands with the protagonists finding their way. The setting is lush and emotions plentiful. Best of all is the whirlwind of the chaos that ensues in the wake of Wayan-tiger’s resistance against the elite class. Throughout, the author explores themes of relationships, friendship, passion, identity, free will, inequality, justice, culture, and how unpredictable emotions sometimes end up motivating a person’s actions, changing the trajectory of individual lives as well as a nation. Unique in concept and execution, this is a winner.
The Elephant in the Room
Global Publishing Group LLC
Pub date July 22, 2022
Price $17.79 (USD) Paperback, $4.89 Kindle