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Sam thinks his problems are over when finds his fishing bucket filled with gold coins. There’s a problem though. The gold burns the fingers of anyone who touches it. His unlikely find coincides with the appearance of a mythical sea creature on the headland overlooking the town and the resumption of quarrying up in the mountains that is poisoning the streams and contaminating the town’s water supply.
Determined to keep his coins hidden, Sam goes up-river to bury them. There he encounters a beguiling young woman called Shasa, who lives by one of the tainted springs and just happens to have a fish’s tail.
As the blasting continues, the discovery of a series of recently-made drawings in the cave under the headland, reveals a terrifying prophesy that will result in the earth spilling apart. Fearing for Shasa’s safety, Sam sets out find her again, only to meet the danger head on, as nature takes its revenge for the damage being wrought by humankind.
Will Sam and Shasa survive?
Set in a fictional location on the West Coast of South Africa, this moving story blends the charm of small town life with the threat of ecological disaster at the hands of a powerful force beyond human understanding.
This is the first book I’ve read by Chris Hall. This story is a humorous fantasy story set in South Africa, but with a serious message about industrialisation and water pollution at its heart. I loved the author’s take on the melting pot of colourful and multicultural personalities that make life in a small town in South Africa so distinctly different to anywhere else in the world.
The two elderly aunties who spend their days gossiping about life in their small town, drinking cups of rooibos tea, and making samosas (A samosa is a South Asian fried or baked pastry with a savory filling like spiced potatoes, onions, peas, chicken and other meats, or lentils) reminded me a little of Miss Marple but with a typically South African small town elderly lady overlay. Their kind heartedness in giving Albertina a home and a job as well as allowing her the freedom to raise some chickens and explore other money-making ideas is delightful.
Albertina is a wonderful character, full of ideas, life and inspiration. In her bright pink shoes and second best wig, nothing gets Albertina down and she makes the best of everything that comes her way in life. The hint of a possible romance between Albertina and Abdu, the polite and empathetic shop keeper across the road from the aunties house, is lovely.
Abdu is kindly and helpful, but he is also clever and adventurous. He discovers a secret that changes his life and proves to be life saving for Jannie. To find out more, you’ll have to read the book.
Jannie is an ex-convict who has discovered the errors of his ways and allowed his better nature to reassert itself. He is a lover of animals and the stray dog featured in the story, and Toti, the monkey, both love him. I always enjoy human interactions with animals as part of a good story.
Sam is on the run for a gang which he became embroiled with, resulting in harm to his sister. He is hiding out in the town and has managed to fix up an old fishing boat and is trying to earn a living as a fisherman. He is the character who kicks off the story and has the initial encounter with two talking octopuses’ who present him with a bucket of gold in exchange for their lives. Unfortunately, neither Sam or his mate, Jannie, can touch the gold. It burns them.
There are other great supporting characters, including the Professor, the Greek cafe owner, and a few others, as well as a number of mythical creatures including a water maiden, Shasa, a Sea Goddess who’s out to teach mankind a lesson because of the pollution and damage to her waterways, flying whales, and others.
I enjoyed this entertaining and imaginative read and recommend it to lovers of fantasy and a good humorous story. Chris Hall certainly has a talent for creating flavourful characters.
Purchase Song of the Sea Goddess by Chris Hall
About Chris Hall
Chris describes herself as a compulsive story-teller, cat slave and hen keeper. Originally from the UK, she now resides in the Western Cape of South Africa.
Her latest novel, ‘Song of the Sea Goddess’ set in her adopted country of South Africa has just been released.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone – Thrills and Spills in 1980s Liverpool’
‘Following the Green Rabbit – a fantastical adventure’
‘The Silver Locket’ (published under pen name, Holly Atkins)
A selection of her poetry is included in ‘Creation and the Cosmos – a poetic anthology’, published by Raw Earth Ink in 2021.
She has also published a tiny taster of her work in a short story collection, ‘A Sextet of Shorts’.
More of her short fiction has appeared in ‘Adler’s Writing’ and ‘One Minute Wit’. Her work also appears in the ‘Writing My City’ anthology, published in Cape Town in 2019.
Visit Chris’s website at www.lunasonline.wordpress.com to read her short fiction, fan fiction, mini-series, poetry and more.