I’m pleased to be taking part in a blog tour today for fellow author Maressa Mortimer. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Maressa several times at different author events and conferences, and she is a lovely ebullient lady with endless energy, who despite being the wife of a Baptist pastor and the mother of four children, is amazingly prolific as an author and also fantastic at design and author promotion!
‘Burrowed‘ is Maressa’s fifth novel and it was published on 12th April 2022.
Maressa grew up in the Netherlands, and moved to England soon after finishing teaching training college. Married to Pastor Richard Mortimer they live in a Cotswold village with their four children. She is a home-school mum, enjoying the time spent with family, travelling, reading and turning life into stories, she wants to use her stories to show practical Christian living in a fallen world.
The beautiful island of Ximiu has a plan for a more sustainable future. But not everyone living on the island is on board. Jasira, daughter of the governing matriarch, is determined to uncover the dark forces threatening her home. With the help of her friends she embarks on a desperate bid to save her island community. When the price is higher than she had bargained for, will Jasira still find faith and beauty in the world around her?
I found this novel captivating, set in the rather sinister but beautiful fictional island of Ximui. The island is run by a matriarchy, and is striving to go “green” – very quickly. The main protagonist, teenager Jasira, is daughter to the leader of the community, who is known as The Xibai. Jasira’s best friend Ilori is the son of the Vice-Xibai. The author demonstrates great skill at creating a creeping sense of anxiety in a setting which is in many ways like our own world, but at one remove. She refers to The Mainland as the place to which people escape, who cannot endure the pace at which the island of Ximui is going “green”; but it is also the place, possibly, to which “the disappeared” are taken. For the story concerns the disappearance of female babies and young girls.
This gives us enough resonance with some of the evils of our own world, to build our sense of unease. Throughout the story, the author sustains an underlying sense of this world being out of alignment with our own, especially in the unusual choice of names, which fascinated me. In the way it deals with contemporary societal issues, it may be regarded as a “speculative” novel.
The author deals with the issue of “going green” so cleverly that I began by thinking, “So, it’s going green. That’s good, isn’t it?” and I ended up by feeling totally different about it. In fact, although the author may not have intended this, it almost put me off “going green” at all! It made me grateful for all the advantages of our modern world: for asphalt roads, for electricity, for supermarkets, television, cars, diesel, and many other things. Other issues which arise in this novel include “combining genetics” and interference with DNA.
In this story, the ruling Council of the island have an official agenda which sounds good but a current of disturbing reality runs along beneath it, in the way these principles are worked out in the people’s lives, and the unpleasant consequences that result from this. A fear arises, that the changes made on Ximui have caused all the baby girls to be stillborn. Jasiru and Elori, seeing themselves as detectives, pursue the strange albino brother and sister, Axixa and Kamau, believing them to be behind all the strange disappearances. So many things are inexplicably going missing, as well as the babies and young girls: cars, electricity, energy, asphalt from the roads, even bags of flour.
The story takes a dramatic turn when we discover who the strange pair are, and where they come from: who are their people, where they dwell, and the truth about their malevolent agenda which threatens the island and everyone on it.
Ultimately Jasira must take a decision to put herself and her friends in extreme danger as she commits to a seemingly impossible mission to save the island. I found this part of the story very vivid and compelling.
A most unusual novel which may be thought of as Young Adult, but I believe to be of crossover appeal, because of the strong emphasis on serious societal issues in contemporary society.
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