This is the way Lauren Elise Daniel’s book Serpents Wake infiltrated my consciousness. I would describe it as a book that reaches the depths of human suffering, sacrifice and compassion but at the same time has a fairytale quality that keeps the reader in a mystical but safe relationship with the story just like being a child having stories read at my mother’s knee.
You know when you read a good book - you can’t put it down easily and it dwells in your waking and dreaming moments. It somehow reaches a deeper level of psychic consciousness and you feel as if you have been there before. The cover took me in with its Celtic swirls and strange mediaeval feel. The style is interesting as not one character has a proper name ... but it works by suggestion, action and character as the story unfolds. We gradually come to know the Girl, the Captain, the Poet, the parents and villagers; the crew of the ship, all by association with the storyline.
Serpents Wake is a mythic fairy story balanced with archetypes of enough conviction of reality to really reach down into trauma experiences and the tough but sweetest learnings of love. There is a veritable company of archetypal characters besides the Girl / Heroine / Wounded Healer who is swallowed by the great serpent. To name a few:
The Poet, the Wolf; the Hunter; the Serpent; the Beast (human and animal); the Mother; the Father; the Doctor; (3 doctors) the Doctor’s Wife (who is an indigenous healer); the Cook; the Wounded Hero / Captain....I would recommend this book for heroic girls and boys (who may not yet know they are hero/heroines who have been ‘bitten’ by life circumstances beyond their control); parents of lost children; students of life; trauma counsellors and psychologists refugees, asylum seekers and aliens.
The book is full of poetic imagery and imagination. The language has a gothic and mediaeval taste and some passages simply took my breath away with beauty.The one I wanted to keep for ever came in the love scene at the end (p. 299)‘In the bed of arms and legs, sleep softened them and made them edgeless.’I read it to my husband of fifty years and he agreed!