By Shanti Rai (Avery Hill Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1-910395-71-4 (PB)

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Family Feast for Modern Mindsets… 9/10

In the valley, all people toil faithfully to sustain themselves and venerate the gods. That worship comes in the form of crops that uncanny messengers of the divine actually come and collect. Everyone is content in their pastoral idyl, working gratefully in harmony and devotion. No one questions… except Sennen.

Restless, dissatisfied and increasingly rebellious, she is at an age where things no longer seem certain or right. Her growing dissent against doctrine and just the way how life is has resulted in pushing her few friends away: even loyal co-conspirator Margate now considers her a “Bad Influence”.

Sennen, however, dreams of one day going over the all-enclosing mountains and learning what lies beyond… maybe even meeting different people…?

When her acting out forces her biological father Baba Gwent and the man he lives with (Pelynt, whom she calls “Dad”) to reveal the true circumstances of Sennen’s birth and her mother’s death, it leads to Gwent being taken away and offered up as sacrifice to the Gods. Furious, Sennen secretly follows, stowing away in an incredible machine and taken up above where she discovers a horrific truth about the Supreme Beings who rule her people. She also finds allies of her own age and apostate disposition willing to help her share the shocking truth… and even destroy the status quo.

… And that’s when an even more appalling truth manifests…

Born in South London and therefore knowing all about “salt of the Earth types” and layers of disbelief, Shanti Rai has constructed a beguiling politico-religious Coming of Age tale with heavy notes of “adults always lie” to flavour the broth: a properly thoughtful thriller that askes eternal but always important questions.

Powerful, beguiling, comfortingly apocalyptic and harbouring the promise of a sequel (soon please!) Sennen is a mini-masterpiece worthy of your attention – especially in this season of spiritual revelation…
© Shanti Rai, 2022. All rights reserved.