A thought-provoking, mythical excursion.
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2022
Here is a book that takes you on an adventure while probing you with difficult questions and tackling unsettling issues. It could be an uncomfortable ride for some – I think perhaps you also either love or hate riding on an elephant.
From the outset you know where you are headed. After meeting Ella and Warren as they discuss their travel plans, we are given insight into Ella’s lifestyle. “Nothing shocks, everything surprises. The extremes of humanity have become part and parcel of my inner workings. In the beginning I sought adventure. Now adventure, intrigue, hazards and risks find me, no matter where I might hide out.”
The book asks many questions of its characters, allowing the reader to explore and question their own feelings and values. Power and status are inextricably linked with cruelty and greed while the quest for justice, equality and honor is sought within the exotic Indonesian environment and through shamanistic healing rituals.
Jill Campbell-Mason has filled her novel with colorful and evocative imagery. Each scene is conjured vividly and succeeds in immersing the reader in the strange hallucinatory world of the jungle where “night black-catted in on soft paws.” The beautiful lyrical writing moves you through the complex interweaving of the lives that are crossing over each other to highlight cultural misunderstanding and intolerance. At times, prejudicial assumptions appear in the writing and remind the reader to stay alert to statements like ‘he didn’t have the hooked nose associated with the race.’ The contrasts drawn between a Muslim couple, an American non-Muslim couple and French Europeans don’t always ring true, and the evil villain of the story is quite stereotyped. It is difficult to feel attached to any humans in this book which allows the reader to place their allegiance squarely with the elephants.
You would think that a book addressing some uncomfortable issues might be hard going but the author writes with humour and creates a world of hope and positivity out of what, at times, seems a despairing situation. The enjoyment of life and helping to create a world of peace and equality is a wonderful perspective to promote to readers. Towards the end of the book a traditional tale called ‘Cinderlaras’ is performed. “Cinderlaras tells us the message that unjust conspiracies will somehow be revealed in the future and what is rightfully yours will find its way back to you. And no matter how many obstacles we have to climb over there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Elephant in the Room is a singular tale offering thought-provoking scenarios to ponder upon, beautiful language and inspiration to help with healing. A delightful, mythical excursion!
(reviewed the day of purchase)