Edition 21: Book Review: Currents of Change by Darian Smith
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
I wish to disclose that I have appeared alongside Darian in The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales from Phantom Feather Publishing, and subsequently connected as writers online. However, this review was unsolicited, and I purchased the novel of my own volition. – Sophie
While traditional speculative fiction publishing houses are currently disinclined to publish paranormal romance, this subgenre won’t take no for an answer, so is growing in indie and self-publishing arenas. Currents of Change is a New Zealand paranormal romance self-published from a denizen of the same country, Darian Smith.
Sara O’Neill arrives in the small town of Kowhiowhio on the crest of traumatic life changes. She’s hiding out in her grandmother’s childhood home, there for as long as she needs to be.
But her safe haven comes with its own share of problems in the guise of: a rundown house; the Maori owner of the only local supermarket, Moana, who is ready to pick a fight with Sara just on the basis of the family she belongs to; and the handsome electrician Nate turns out to be her neighbour. Worst of all, her new house has no power and a resident ghost.
Sara is treading a tightrope between personal dangers and the dangers of a spiritual realm she has no knowledge of. And for once, she doesn’t need to go it alone, but she needs to look for help from those she’s not prepared to let in.
Currents of Change is a well-paced paranormal romance with, for many readers outside the country, the interesting staging of a (fictional) town, with subtle touches of the New Zealand culture. The romance is an important theme to the storyline but not too overt or dwelled too much upon to detract from the paranormal aspects of the story.
While the issue of domestic violence survival is raised in the book, it is treated with sensitivity and without blame. Sara as a character is assisted by others but does not need them to solve her problems for her.
That the majority of the main characters were women was refreshing, and that the Maori and their culture were represented within the sphere of primary characters is excellent, with indigenous cultures being under-represented in all fiction. As to the validity and authenticity of the representation of both people and language, that will have to be commented on by Maori reviewers.
That this novel also touches on unhealthy family dynamics and some mental illness as part of the background of the novel, gives it a dose of realism but doesn’t dwell in what happened before the book began.
The book’s ending could have been tied up a little bit less neatly, but that’s a personal preference. Also, in looking up some of the Maori words out of curiosity, there may have been an incident or two of contextual misuse. However by and large the words are correct and have seemingly been genuinely used.
Darian Smith’s Currents of Change would appeal to readers who like a good ghost story, with a little bit of history and a dash of romance in the mix. It would be suitable for young adult readers upwards, as there is a touch of sexy but not graphic levels. You can find out more about Darian by visiting his blog at http://www.darian-smith.com/ (and you can also read a sample of the book).
Currents of Change by Darian Smith
Publisher: Wooden Tiger Press, 2015
Sophie is a scientist, aspiring writer, sci-fi and fantasy nerd. She is an editor with IFWG Publishing and has been Editor In Chief of SQ Mag and SQ Magazine, the previous incarnation. She also contributes book and film reviews. She is currently living in Vancouver, Canada.
You can find her in a few different places: @Smoph on Twitter, Sophie Yorkston – writer on Facebook, and at her blogs: Smoph’s Musings and Smoph Writes.