Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Review: "Castle of Water" by Dane Huckelbridge

Dane Huckelbridge, look what you made me do!

Sophie is a French architect. She and her new husband, Etienne, have spent the first few days of their honeymoon in Tahiti, and now plan to spend the second leg on of of the Marquesas Islands, specifically the one where the French entertainer Jacques Brel—who is Sophie's favorite singer ever—spent his last days.

Barry is, or until just recently, was, an investment banker in New York. The life he led in high finance isn't the life he dreamed of—what he wanted more than anything was to become a painter. He was accepted to art school, yet made the safe choices which led him down the less exciting but more stable path. But he's finally decided it is time for all of that to change, and he literally heads from his downtown office to Tahiti with the clothes on his back and some extra pairs of contact lenses. His ultimate journey is the island in the Marquesas where his idol, Paul Gauguin, finally found the inspiration to unleash his genius.

Sophie, Etienne, and Barry are the three passengers on a small plane heading to the island of Hiva Oa. Yet they fall short of their destination when their plane crashes in the middle of the South Pacific. Not everyone survives, yet those who do are faced with an unending number of challenges, starting with the fact that the island they wind up marooned on is virtually unknown by the world, and is nowhere near the flightplan their pilot filed before take-off.

With miles and miles of nothing but water surrounding them, meager food sources, and not much in the way of shelter, the survivors must make their way to do just that—survive. At the same time, they must learn to trust one another, as well as live with the realization that if they can ever find their way home, or at least back to some semblance of civilization, it cannot happen alone.

"What does it take to not only survive such a thing, but then live the rest of your life with that thing inside you?"

You've seen this story before. You may even be able to figure out the plot from the bare-bones summary I've given. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Dane Huckelbridge brings all of the familiar elements to this book but adds a dash of insouciance, some well-placed history and trivia, and some beautiful storytelling. His imagery helps you picture the island in your mind's eye, and visualize the characters' struggles and victories as you're reading about them.

I thought the plot took a little while to build up steam, and I could have done without the characters adhering to well-known stereotypes early on. But beyond that I really enjoyed Castle of Water, even if it had me singing "Candle on the Water" from the Disney movie Pete's Dragon. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't google it unless you're a Helen Reddy fan.) It was a lovely, special book, and proves that Huckelbridge is definitely an author to watch in the future.

As an aside, I'm not to keen to get on a plane in a few days.

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