‘Don’t fear the Reaper’
Australian author Liz Butcher makes an impressive novel debut with FATES' FURY. She earned her degree in psychology, has served as Executive Assistant at the author resource center Horror Tree, and has written short stories that have been published in several excellent anthologies. Now she steps onto the stage as a novelist and signals the beginning of a fine career in literature. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.
There certainly is no sense of stage fright on Liz’s part as she opens her novel with a scene that abruptly lights the fuse for this rather extraordinary novel. To wit, ‘Jonah Sands stepped out of the bustling Brisbane airport. He turned his face towards the fierce Australian sun and smiled, relieved to be home. As he joined the taxi queue, he glanced at his watch and realised he hadn’t changed the time after leaving Greece. He moved to the next available taxi and greeted the driver politely, helping to load his bags into the trunk. “Are you visiting or returning home?” the driver asked. “Returning,” Jonah replied, running his hand through his shaggy blond hair…”I’m a photojournalist.” And with this snapshot of the main character established, Jonah’s taxi suffers an accident attempting to avoid hitting a woman in the middle of the road. – the woman with flaming red hair who plays such a significant impact on Jonah’s life.
Inserting a news report speeds the tension, ‘Good evening. Now, what’s interesting about this is that witness reports of the woman are almost identical across the board, despite the fact that the accidents themselves are varied and have occurred in different areas across the country. The first incident was a car accident …in which a cab driver lost his life and his passenger was found unconscious on the road…’ Liz paces this novel very well indeed, and the plot is summarized as follows – ‘The last thing Jonah Sands expected on his thirtieth birthday was to have his life thrust into the hands of a dangerous, red-haired woman—or to be the only person in the world to survive an encounter with her. As the death toll skyrockets, Jonah and his two best friends, the siblings Tristan and Ava Carter, find themselves at the epicentre of inexplicable phenomena—a stranded ferry transforms into a barge headed for the Underworld; young girls levitate to whisper ancient riddles; technology across the globe is controlled by some unseen hand. And it all seems to lead back to the woman with red hair. When a stranger finds them in the midst of a thunder storm and offers his otherworldly assistance, Jonah finally unravels the truth about who he really is. And what it means for the rest of humanity.’
This is one impressive debut from an obviously gifted artist who knows how to blend human drama with metaphysical fantasy and mythology to create a splendidly unique novel with visceral force. Very highly recommended.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.