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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
If you enjoy historical fiction inspired by the myths and legends of indigenous people, Along the Waterways, book two of the Dreamtime Mysteries trilogy by Jenni Barnett is for you. Although a sequel, it stands on its own. Set in Australia, it follows two timelines: modern-day Rex Graham, a twenty-year-old mixed-race university student, and the stories about his Aboriginal grandmother’s people. Barnett makes clear that these aren’t a retelling of traditional myths or legends but her own creation, though inspired by her respect for and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. The narrative is divided into seven “books” accompanied by illustrations. Story characters and their family and clan relationships are identified at the start of each book. A glossary of language and an index of character names is also provided at the end.
In Along the Waterways, Barnett gives us a fascinating collection of stories about an intriguing people. The cast of characters can seem daunting at first, but as you make your way through the tales, just as some of them make their ways along the rivers, the characters become real and relatable. It’s as if you’ve popped back in time to the Australian bush before the arrival of Europeans and are watching the panoply of human interactions at tribal, clan, and personal levels. Adventurous journeys, heroic characters, challenges, power struggles, first romances, births and deaths, sadness and joy fill the pages against a backdrop of cultural traditions, a spiritual integration with nature, and an orderly culture with defined roles. Secrets are revealed and Rex will encounter the meaning and purpose of his life. Highly recommended.