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Book Review: Rising of a Dead Moon by Paul Haston

Title: Rising of a Dead Moon
Author: Paul Haston
Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace independent Publishing Platform (October 9th 2012)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Read: e-book
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon
Summary: (Goodreads)

An Indian girl is forced into an arranged marriage then widowed. She escapes a widow’s burning and flees to Africa to find the father who has abandoned her.

Set against a backdrop of 19th century Indian Indenture, the shipment of Indians to work on white-owned sugar plantations in Natal, Paul Haston’s critically acclaimed novel is a story of hope and tragic drama.

My Review:

Thanks Paul for offering me your book to read and review 🙂

Cover: A cover that makes you think of the classics!

Paper and font: Font and layout was good.

Readability, language: : Reads easy!

Why did I choose this book: I’d never read the story of an Indian slave in Africa before.

Usha, a young Indian girl becomes a widow at a very young age. Unwanted by everyone, even her mother she get packed off to Vrindavan, the city of widows. Dejected and rejected she decides to go in search of her father who went to Africa when she was a little girl. However life doesn’t get better for her, she escapes the Indian sigma of widows only to become an Indian slave in Africa.

As I read the book the aptness of the title become clear as Haston explores the darkness in Usha’s life. The new moon or day of the dead moon brings darkness and is an evil omen in Zulu lore. The cover is simple with the silhouette of a woman looking out into the fields. I would have preferred to see more of the image as half the image is hidden behind parchment that carries the title and authors name.

I’ve read a few books about African slaves in America but this was the first book I’ve read about Indian slaves in Africa. The plot is well laid out with the initial set-up of Usha’s life in India as a child, a young bride and a widow. Haston then moves on to Africa along with Usha, as she becomes an indentured slave on a cane plantation. In her dark world James Rothwell brings a glimmer of hope, however he has his own demons to fight both in Africa and England.

Set in three countries during the Victorian era, Haston draws a detailed picture of India, Africa and England during those times. The people and culture of those times are described well and I found myself amazed at how a non-Indian got India, its people and its customs so right.

The main protagonist is Usha but James also plays a strong role to counter the feminine. Usha is the average Indian widow who decides to defy the sati tradition and live her life. She has a lot of sorrow in her life and the dark cloud never seems to go away. But through out the cloud has a silver lining, keeping her moving forward in hope. James is a victim of circumstances but also the man who takes the easy path. However he has strong principles and values that hold him in good stead but don’t always lead him to happiness.
‘Rising of a Dead Moon’ also has a host of supporting characters who add to the story and make it richer.

The story is structured well starting out in India before travelling to Africa, then England and back to Africa to complete the circle. Haston ties up all the loose ends in the story and gives it an unconventional end that leaves you with just the right questions to take away to mull over your hot cocoa.

Like I said before the insight into India by someone non-Indian amazed me. Haston’s research on Africa and India and their cultures shows in the book. A well written book with a good pace, the ‘Rising of a Dead Moon’ makes for good reading. I’m definitely looking forward to Haston’s next book.

Since there are a lot of dark undercurrents in the book, I wouldn’t recommend this book for kids. If you’re not a kid and like historical cultural unconventional romance, ‘Rising of a Dead Moon’ is a book to read. Don’t miss it! 🙂

About the Author:
Paul Haston now lives with his family on the west coast of Canada but he is originally from England. Other than ‘Rising of a Dead Moon’, he has also written another novel ‘Blood and Doves’ along with several short stories and screenplays. He is currently working on his next novel ‘Shadow of the Tiger’. He can be found on his Facebook page for his novel Rising of a Dead Moon.

Buy On: Amazon

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