Friday, 1 December 2017

By the Currawong’s Call by Welton B. Marsland

352 Pages
Publisher: Escape Publishing

A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful...
Victoria, Australia, 1891
Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.
A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.
Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?
 “You gonna sing hymns with that tongue in the morning, Father?”
Every now and again I stumble across a book that takes me completely by surprise in the best possible way. By the Currawong’s Call, was such a book for me. It was so very well written, and brought me a touching, and beautiful story with such apparent ease, and through such clear images that I’m still in awe now, days after finishing the book.
Matthew and Jonah are both wonderful characters. Neither of them are perfect, but both of them are the sort of men you’d like to count among your friends. And together they work, despite their different backgrounds and outlooks on life, death, and religion — or maybe because of those differences?
This is the story of these two men, but mostly Matthew, through whose eyes we’re experiencing events, coming to terms with something they never expected to have to deal with. And of course, with Matthew being a priest, his problem is even bigger than ‘just’ indulging in an illegal relationship. He somehow has to reconcile his faith, his view of God and religion, his visions for his life, with this love he feels for Jonah.
“We are a wonder together, Matthew thought. An absolute wonder.”
And yet, By the Currawong’s Call is anything but an angst-driven and drama-filled story.  Of course, if ever there was a time and subject matter which would make a (very) angsty story-line acceptable, even in my eyes, this is probably it. And yet, the author managed to avoid that trap and provided me with a story in which issues are by no means swept under the carpet or ignored, but aren’t drawn out either. Problems are dealt with, solutions, as elusive as they may appear, are found. In fact, While both the reader and Matthew and Jonah are constantly aware of the risks they are taking as a result of giving into the attraction and feelings between them, for most of the story, that’s not where the tension comes from. Until very late in the story, third parties are only a potential, but never a direct, threat. If ever a story proved that love will find a way, this is it.
In short, By the Currawong’s Call is a beautiful, understated yet evocative, and very memorable story. Welton B. Marsland will be added to my list of authors to keep an eye out for.
“They had the power to ruin one another, completely and utterly. Instead, they were deciding on the exact opposite of ruination. They were going to build something together. A life, if nothing else.”

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