Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review | Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman

Review by Stuart Mayne

I am a fan of Pamela Freeman. The Castings trilogy is a fine series that strays away from the formulaic fantasy trilogy, with a deftness and lightness of touch that had me scrabbling for each as they came out. Now we can once again enjoy the mysteries of the Eleven Domains.
Ember watches helplessly as her future and happiness vanish in a scorching burst of flames with the murder of her husband. Determined to bring revenge upon the perpetrators she enlists the help of Ash, the son of a seer, and together they pit themselves against the terrible elements in a last desperate bid to end the conflict once and for all.
Ember and Ash continues Freeman’s journey as a writer of something different in the fantasy genre. Through the pain and suffering of her characters we touch on the human; the singular pain of the individual. She makes fantasy understandable to me. She writes with a light touch. Her novels feel like a watercolour compared to the usual impasto style. While more baroque than the Castings trilogy, Ember and Ash is a deftly portrayed study of evil and vengence.
This review first appeared in the Aurealis Magazine subscriber newsletter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DVD Review | The Lost Thing

Review by Carissa Thorp

The Lost Thing is a short film based on Shaun Tan's picture book of the same name. Shaun joined a small team, doing the production design, art direction and storyboarding, as well as co-directing, to make this lovely animated incarnation of his work, bringing to life a vividly drear and retro world, reminiscent of Melbourne in which an unnamed young man (narrated by Tim Minchin) adopts a potbellied crab-like, bell-tongued creature he discovers on the beach. With the creature "obviously" lost and out of place in the young man's world, the two temporary companions must find a solution to their problem.
Blessed with glowing animation, storybook transitions, gentle humor and a dreamlike logic, The Lost Thing is a real gem; whimsical, universal, and yet somehow very Australian (could just be the accent, but I think it’s the light). It may only be 15 minutes long, but it's a very special 15 minutes, recommended for young and old. I hope some day we get to see a feature-length film from the marvelous mind of Shaun Tan.
This review first appeared in the Aurealis Magazine subscriber newsletter.