I haven’t read this book in a very, very, very long time. As in probably not since high school. When, to be honest, a lot of the intricacies of this storyline went a little over my head. So reading this amazing, amazing novel for the second time when I have much more knowledge… well, it was an absolutely awe inspiring treat. One that I was incredibly sad when it ended… so luckily there are two more intensely complex stories in this trilogy.
Harding always sweeps me away on an epic journey that is both unexpected and thrilling. Somehow, she not only manages to weave an amazing world of mystery and mayhem, her trips into spirituality and the other leave you thinking about it in a way that no other author is able to inspire. The Alchemist’s Key was definitely such a journey for me, and one that was a little less in depth and intense than some of the other Traci Harding books which grace my shelves.
I often find it difficult to find a good, solid story that has an Indigenous Australian lead. In fact, Book of Dreams has so far been the only such story. I’m constantly searching for new ones, and the fact that Harding was able to write a tale that paints a minority group in a good light and highlights some of their daily difficulties was amazing. Yet, although the Indigenous aspect of this writing is phenomenal, it is also the spiritual knowledge that is imparted throughout that has made me fall in love with this novel again and again and again.
There is something incredibly intriguing about secret societies – probably the fact that they are secret is what tends to fascinate us. A ghost story using a shady secret society was a perfect way to tell the last story in Ghostwriting: Tales of the Supernatural. It was suspenseful, intriguing, with just the right dose of love, lust and betrayal.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have read this right before I went to sleep, it certainly gave me some very interesting and tripped out dreams. But, isn’t that a mark of a good story? Something that can affect both the conscious and the subconscious? The use of a curse and a building’s history to build this ghost story helped to add to the sense of mystery and suspense.
I’m not normally very interested in ghost stories. Even growing up, at sleep overs, I always found them a little boring. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a collection of short ghost stories which I actually enjoyed. Better yet to find a collection that makes me question my preconceptions about the world that I live in and how I am able to influence my reality.
A Piece of Time was a very quaint short story – a tale of love, fate and the importance of family. The sweetness of this story shines from the pages left me smiling in contentment at the conclusion of this tale. Like all of Harding’s stories, there is an understanding of the spiritual world that I rarely find in good stories – instead of a bastardisation of such beliefs to suit the story, the story has been built up around the practices and beliefs themselves.
The ending of this story was completely different to what I expected – and honestly, all the better for it. Riane’s strength and independence, her very place in the world is placed under strain and, like diamonds placed under pressure, the resulting heroine that is displayed is a gem beyond compare. The haunting ending also hints at many happy events in her future, even though, at the conclusion of the story, and following her final decision, there is no hints as to what this may be.
This short story touched on a fear and worry that I myself, as a writer have – dying before I have finished telling the stories that are swirling around in my head. Harding’s grasp of this and her ability to twist this fear into a ghost story that had my spine tingling and left me internally cringing created a great short story which I am genuinely struggling to get out of my head. What better way to inspire a writer to actually write, than tell a story about one who is no longer able to put pen to paper?
Although this is a ghost story, and a phenomenal one at that, it also makes me want to do a health detox. After all, that was the instigating factor for the paranormal chaos that followed. Plus, the idea of removing toxins from the body is always an interesting one. Although, each and every person tends to have their own take on how this works, I mostly enjoyed the idea that the detox focused on removing things like alcohol and cigarettes. Yes, there were other aspects of the detox factor, but the idea to find a happier, healthier you was inherent within the characters’ motivations – something which I can appreciate. The fact that a happier, healthier body meant better access to the paranormal world and the girls’ spiritual understanding? Just a fantastic angle to the story!