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Award winning author Tahlia Newland writes contemporary fantasy and magical realism with a metaphysical twist. When not reading, writing, reviewing or mentoring authors you may find her being an extremely casual high school teacher or making decorative masks. Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. In 2012, she set up the Awesome Indies List to showcase quality independent fiction. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney. She loves cats but doesn't have one because they eat native birds.
on Oct. 24, 2013 :
Lethal Inheritance is many things…
It's the first novel in The Diamond Peak series.
It’s exciting and uplifting, thrilling and thoroughly positive, and it shows huge challenges and how to overcome them. It made me giggly and silly and generally happy.
But it’s also soul-crushingly dark and creepy in parts. Those parts left me feeling a little gutted, a little hollow inside and filled with a desire to expel the darkness. Perhaps it was my Serpentine rising up to overcome my inner Radiance or perhaps I had a Gimp climbing up my legs?
We start with Ariel, she's a regular 17-year-old girl. She's concerned about school and exams and her friends, boyfriends and fitting in. She's pretty much what everyone would expect of a normal teenage girl.
Her mother, Nadima, is a little different. She raises orphan baby wombats!
Spud instantly made me squee!! I think people around me thought I'd choked on some food, but really, I was just instantly drawn into the lives of these two women. I loved that they cared for this beautiful animal. It drew a strong connection with me and considering it was a tiny piece of information in a large and complex story, it still stuck with me throughout the whole story.
Tahlia doesn't beat around in the bush, the action happens quickly. This is a good thing. It brought me instantly into the middle of turmoil, horror and whirl-wind emotion. It also raised a lot of questions.
Foremost in my mind was what the hell is happening?!
Thankfully, things are explained in a rational and timely manner, Ariel is exposed to the same information as the reader. This is a great way to get the reader to bond with the protagonist. I mirrored the confusion and disbelief that Ariel went through.
We follow Ariel on a journey into a world she had never known existed. She's making this trip to save her mother from the Demons that kidnapped her. Why they took her, we don't really know, but the horrific ideas that Ariel creates in her mind of what could be happening to her mother are a very forceful motivator. I wanted to jump into the pages and save her mother from them myself.
When Ariel meets her cast of supporting characters, Nick and Walnut things become a little more interesting.
I adored Walnut. He pushes Ariel, comforts her and offers his many years of wisdom. I didn't really get a strong visual of what he looks like. I was thinking something like this:
but I'm not sure why I don't have a strong idea of how he looks, perhaps to me, it didn't really matter. It was more his wisdom and advice that mattered to the story.
The magical side of things was a little bit out of my depth. When inner radiance was mentioned, this is how I imagined it:
As the story progressed, I knew that was wrong. Tahlia explained the magical aspects of the story in great detail. I liked this, because it gave me an opportunity to understand exactly what she was trying to show me.
I liked too, how things just didn't fall into Ariel's lap. She had work for things, she had to experience failures before she succeeded and it made everything seem more realistic because of it. I especially liked the sword fighting.
There were a few things that were a little obvious and a little cliche. The Nick/Ariel relationship had kind of been done before, and I picked up on a lot of the twists and turns of their relationship well in advance. This was only a minor issue I had, it really didn't detract from the story, but I would have liked to see something else a little more original when it came to the two of them.
Ultimately, I plan to continue this series (of which there are four novels and one prequel), it held my attention, it is extremely well written and an enjoyable story of adventure, self exploration, magic and general mayhem.
**Note: I was provided with an electronic version of this story in return for an honest review**
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Sep. 26, 2013 :
The story commences when the teenage heroine of Tahlia Newland's "Lethal Inheritance", Arial, is hurtled into a new life, discovering that she has a unique inheritance when her mother is kidnapped by demons. To rescue her mother, Arial must venture from her apparently safe, suburban world into a hidden realm.
"Lethal Inheritance" is a fantasy novel, the first in a series called "Diamond Peak". I purchased and read this novel to dip into the booming field of fantasy. Previously, my fantasy reading was only LOTR and Phillip Pulman. I'm otherwise a lapsed science-fiction fan.
The author classifies her "Diamond Peak" series as metaphysical fantasy: "the characters’ experiences, though cloaked in fantasy, are the journey we all take through life whether we know it or not." This set me, in my possibly somewhat nerdy way, watching for metaphors: of course, there is a mountain to climb; the demons that must be defeated feed on fear and negative emotions and can only be defeated by managing these emotions. (At one point, the demons are described as being more like weeds than truly autonomous, sentient creatures, though their malevolence as depicted does seem to me to give them more agency than this. There is a detailed "natural history" of the Hidden Realm to work out if you're that sort of person.)
For me, the most arresting images were those of a man drowning in mud while denying that it was happening, the "Lures" and finally a path of shifting stones. The Lures are simulacrums of aspects of the real world: beach resorts, shopping centres, fairgrounds etc, where, “If you start believing everything’s real, you might want to stay, and once the Lures become your reality, you can’t see the way out.” The shifting stones tilt and twist and attempt to tip walkers off. The only way to survive is to put your feet "according to how things are now, not how they were a moment ago or how you think they will be."
This is interesting, however I'm of course not suggesting that "Lethal Inheritance", and its followers in the series, should be read the way I did it: somewhat self-consciously on the watch-out for metaphorical allusions - because I happened to read what the author said about it. The story's images seem good enough to be absorbed unconsciously.
"Lethal Inheritance" also has a few romantic "oo-er" moments for young girls, eg, "Fire blazed in the pit of her belly and raced through her body" and "… she glimpsed his finely muscled chest through his open necked shirt." Well, fair enough.
I suggest the novel and the series as a whole offers an alternative to the "Dr Who" assistant model: you know, where the girl always falls and twists an ankle during the chase scene ("Oooh! Aaagh! Doctor - DOCTER!") and then has to be rescued from the monsters by a bloke. The Diamond Peak series should be great for teenage girls, offering via its heroine an active, engaged role model.
(reviewed long after purchase)