The Turquoise Tattoo

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
286 Pages
Reviewed on 02/25/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

Vaya Dauphin’s novel, The Turquoise Tattoo, is a mystical tale set in North Island, New Zealand. Scarlet Flint’s mother is dead and she is left by her absentee father in the care of her Aunt Sarah. The young woman is telepathic and before her departure from Australia to New Zealand, where her Aunt Sarah is opening a veterinary practice, she starts to be bothered by new images that keep appearing like turquoise tattoos on her skin. In her new school in Waihi College, she picks a fight with Manu James and meets Sterling, who tells her that she has special abilities given to her by her Maori ancestors. Scarlet thus discovers her elemental powers and learns the secrets of her past. In the process, she is caught in an ancient battle that for her is a matter of life and death.

The Turquoise Tattoo is a young adult coming of age fantasy that takes us from Australia to the Maoris of New Zealand. As we follow the adventures of unwilling elemental Scarlet Flint, we cannot help but empathize with her. Technically an orphan, she is ripped away from Australia and thrown into a new environment that is foreign to her. In the first few chapters of the novel, Vaya Dauphin has successfully set the stage for the next chapters in Scarlet’s life and, at the same time, intensifies the reader’s curiosity and excitement. What follows certainly does not disappoint - and the ending is something that one may not expect at all. Written with just the right pace and in crisp language, the plot of the story is as fluid as it is creative. This is a book that will keep you burning the midnight oil until the very end.

Mamta Madhavan

The Turquoise Tattoo by Vaya Dauphin is a story with Maori mythology and beautiful New Zealand as the backdrop. Scarlet Flint is a normal seventeen-year-old. She has an uncanny feeling of being telepathic. She also has new tattoos like ink emerging on her skin. The story sees her moving to New Zealand to make her aunt Sarah happy. There she discovers some alarming facts about herself which make her realize about her powers. She has to now use them to find out the secrets of her own past. This beautiful story of self discovery takes readers on a journey of fantasy and adventure.

The story is refreshing because of the New Zealand backdrop and Maori mythology. The characters are also portrayed with a nice twist which lends an elegant charm to the story. All the characters, along with the plot twists and turns, give the book a unique charm. There is an element of curiosity while reading about Scarlet, which keeps the pace of the story. The landscape, mythological references, and the culture of the place add to the unique theme.

The Maori glossary at the end is helpful. The open ending of the story is proof that the book is going to have a sequel very soon. The style of writing is simple and neat. The theme lends an aura of mysticism and secrecy, especially when it comes to the symbolism of the tattoos on Scarlet. The author has blended many factors like mystery, intrigue, culture, and mythology to make the story a winner. An original theme woven skilfully with surrealism and fantasy.

Jack Magnus

The Turquoise Tattoo is a Maori mythology-based young adult fantasy written by Vaya Dauphin. Scarlet lives with her aunt Sarah, who has been her guardian since Scarlet's father left Melbourne, Australia for a job in Papua New Guinea. Sarah, a veterinarian, has accepted the offer to buy a surgery in New Zealand from her former boss, Tony. Scarlet's quite upset at the news as she's entering her senior year in school and has mastered the coping skills required to deal with the students there. Scarlet's a telepath and can read people's thoughts. It's hard being different, and Scarlet has had to lead a solitary life, knowing that she must keep her powers a carefully guarded secret. When she starts school in New Zealand, she meets two very different step-brothers, Manu and Sterling, and learns that there are others who have gifts like hers.

Vaya Dauphin's coming of age story, The Turquoise Tattoo, really surprised me. It's intense and powerful and riveting. Dauphin weaves a spell over her readers, who get to discover, along with Scarlet, the dark and light forces that inhabit Maori mythology. Scarlet is strong, capable and caring, despite the stresses and strains of her isolated life. You feel her humiliation as she's unable to suppress her reactions to Sterling's pain and anger and makes a spectacle of herself at yet another school, when she attacks the larger Manu at the bus stop. You also get to share her wonder and exhilaration at learning who and what she is, and at discovering a kindred spirit in Sterling. While The Turquoise Tattoo is labeled as Young Adult fantasy, I'm sure other adult fantasy readers will be as enthralled by this book as I was.