Saturday, April 18, 2020

Book Review: 'Dar & Earth Oraculi' by Athena M Kaiman

Dar & Earth Oraculi by Athena M Kaiman

A very impressive debut novel!

Author Athena M Kaiman has extensive experience in politics on many levels – as a grass-roots organizer, a speechwriter and a press secretary – and that experience is key to the topic of our male dominated politics and government this excellent Young Adult novel explores. DAR & Earth: Oraculi is her debut novel. She enjoys homes in both Nashville and Miami. 

The quality of writing in this debut novel certainly signals the arrival of an important new voice in literature. Inextricably combining history with social mores that create a new standard for not only novels of female empowerment, but also for a worthy critique of environmental, social, political, religious, and scientific issues, this young author succeeds in weaving a fine fantasy with keen insights on how we view our world.

The novel opens in that other special world – the DAR (no, not Daughters of the American Revolution!) as we meet the main character of the drama in the present time – ‘Aelish stood in the Great Rotunda of Peace before the Head Council of DAR. The Rotunda was as imposing as the first time she had entered it, so many years ago. The marble dome’s hand carved, historical scenes depicting the legendary figures of DAR towered above her…”Congratulations on attaining the position of Oraculi,” said the Council Chair, with a bit of whimsy in her voice…’ 

The story is complex, but the author identifies the significant point in the brief synopsis: ‘Through the protagonist Aelish, a magical being born of Human parents in 1546 Ireland, and her Oraculi, Lady Antonia, born in 1521 at King Henry VIII's Court, learn the history of DAR & Earth. From medieval times and the devastation of the plague, to the current threat of humanity s extinction from anthropogenic climate change, experience how politics, religion, science, and patriarchal ideology, collide in both worlds. After her parents die of plague, Aelish journeys at age seventeen to DAR a magical commonwealth governed by females. But the refuge of her new home soon takes a dark turn. She discovers something horrific and embarks on a quest to vanquish an enemy she has never met. In present day, Aelish returns to Earth as an Oraculi to Isabela, a twelve-year-old-girl of Mexican descent, with exceptional scientific aptitude. But Isabela wants nothing to do with DAR. Will Aelish fail in her mission to save her birthplace from runaway climate change?’

The pleasure of this fine novel is in the reading, uncovering information and ideas at a pace that encourages incorporation of the thoughts presented. This is a very impressive debut novel – one that is highly recommended for the YA audience, and enlightened adults concerned about climate change! 

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.