Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Tree Singer The Tree Singer
by Danny Fahey
Dragonfall Press

Supplied for review by Dragonfall Press

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

The Tree Singer is, to the best of my knowledge, Danny Fahey’s first novel. Dragonfall Press should be congratulated on publishing it.

The Tree Singer concerns the arrival of a "healer" into a lakeside town that is dying from loss of hope. Each year the lake produces less fish, the land is sour and arid, and the people are progressively more mean spirited and crabbed. Then the healer arrives and by small degrees, one person, one tree, one application of hope starts to heal the town, the land and the lake.

The story is told from the point of view of Jacob, a boy of twelve, whose best friend has just recently died of a plague and who meets the healer as he first comes to town. Over the course of the book Jacob grows, the healer leaves and so eventually does Jacob only for both of them to meet again in a plague-riven city.

The Tree Singer has been written in a very lyric style, which is not something I would ever expect to say about science fiction or fantasy. The story may also have had a strong redemptive theme in it, through the form of the healer, that suggested religious overtones on the part of the author. However, that redemptive theme was neither central to the book nor a moral inflicted on the reader; the theme was there as authorial backdrop.

I found The Tree Singer an unusual read as it was not the commonplace fantasy I had expected from the blurb. This was a story about personal growth, discovery, loss and forgiveness and not one of daring do and high speed thrills – which made the novel all the more surprising as a fantasy.

The Tree Singer is a contemplative read for the end of day, a literary disgestive after a heavy meal of The Game of Thrones or The Deed of Paksenarrion. I enjoyed it.

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