The Jour­nal

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - PALLAS GATES MCCORQUODALE

R. D. Stevens Mata­dor (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $13.99 (304pp) 978-1-78803-964-2

In this philo­soph­i­cal mys­tery that ex­poses life’s hid­den beau­ties and cor­rup­tion, Ethan trav­els from Lon­don to Cam­bo­dia in a des­per­ate at­tempt to lo­cate his free-spir­ited sis­ter, Char­lotte, who has dis­ap­peared. He is un­pre­pared for the color and chaos of South­east Asia and re­lies on a bevy of ques­tion­able new friends while track­ing her down.

The un­ex­pected dis­cov­ery of Char­lotte’s jour­nal gives Ethan tan­ta­liz­ing clues to her where­abouts, but her heart­felt words cause him to reeval­u­ate ev­ery­thing he thought he knew about his sis­ter.

The jour­nal is a ver­i­ta­ble trav­el­ogue of tourist hot spots and hid­den gems. Char­lotte’s im­pul­sive wan­der­ing takes her—and later, Ethan— through the crowded streets and lonely vil­lages of Cam­bo­dia, the jun­gle back roads of Laos, and the ex­otic mar­kets and beaches of Thai­land.

Vivid scenery and na­tive cuisines and cus­toms greet trav­el­ers from around the world, while the hor­ror of the Killing Fields stands in stark con­trast to their care­free, pleasure-seek­ing life­style. As a darker, seed­ier side of the tourist trade and drug sub­cul­ture emerges in the text, sus­pense and a sense of ur­gency builds, and Ethan’s fear for Char­lotte’s safety pushes him be­yond his lim­its.

Con­ver­sa­tions with truth-seek­ing locals, peers, and ex­pats young and old re­veal a mul­ti­tude of per­cep­tions, and their unique per­son­al­i­ties keep the weight­ier di­a­logue fresh and in­trigu­ing.

Ethan’s quiet in­tro­spec­tion plays next to Char­lotte’s dra­matic per­son­al­ity, high­lighted through flash­backs of a cold and struc­tured child­hood, and in par­tic­u­lar of Char­lotte’s volatile re­la­tion­ship with her in­sen­si­tive, aus­tere fa­ther. Ethan’s ado­ra­tion of his wild older sis­ter is ev­i­dent, and as he steps into the un­com­fort­able role of leader rather than fol­lower, it be­comes ap­par­ent that per­haps Char­lotte is not the only one who is lost.

A mo­saic of apho­risms and ex­otic sights and sounds, The Jour­nal con­tains a thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary on the power of fam­ily and re­la­tion­ships.

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