3 out of 4 stars
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Butterflies and Demons by Eva Chapman is a fascinating look at the history of Adelaide, a British settlement in Australia. Through fictional discussions with indigenous people in the area, the author presents differing viewpoints of the struggles faced when attempting to coexist. The British settlers brought with them a new language and new customs that conflicted with the way of life of the native people in the area. The people of this area struggled with the changes and language barriers. They also had concerns about the possibility of losing their own unique language and traditions.
As the author tells the story from these various viewpoints, she is occasionally interrupted by an indigenous woman who corrects her on some of the information she provides. For example, when the author describes how difficult it was for refugees to move to Adelaide and try to survive in a new country and culture, the ‘Wirra Woman’ interjects that it was harder for her own people. Her people were basically existing as refugees in their own country. This was a fascinating description of how the people of this area of Australia felt when the British decided to settle there.
I enjoyed reading this book and the different viewpoints it provides about the settlement of Adelaide. The author had personal experience with living in Adelaide and conveyed additional facts about the history of the area based on that personal experience. However, she must have conducted a considerable amount of research into the various people who lived and settled there. Her story is never one-sided. She presents the struggles faced with each type of settler. The indigenous people had to deal with new settlers coming into their country and the British struggled with organizing a settlement. In addition, refugees faced unique barriers regarding language and custom. What I liked most about the story is the way an event is told from several different perspectives to show the uniqueness of each character.
The only thing I disliked about the book was how rapidly it jumped between the various viewpoints. At times, I wasn’t sure which character was describing an event or what was happening. However, once I got accustomed to the flow of the book, I found it much easier to follow the story. The author includes a Cast of Characters in the beginning of the book with descriptions of each of the main characters. This helps the reader keep track of the characters and how they relate to the story. In the beginning, several characters are introduced at once, so this is very helpful. As the book progresses, it becomes less necessary to refer to these character descriptions. Also, the author provides a Kaurna Glossary containing some common Kaurna terms. I used this often while reading and found it to be very helpful.
Since I noticed more than ten errors in the book, I don’t believe it was professionally edited. Also, the story jumped around rapidly in the beginning, which was confusing at times. For these reasons, I could not give this book a perfect score. Therefore, I give Butterflies and Demons a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I appreciated the amount of research the author conducted to present all the various viewpoints in this book. It is a fascinating look at the impact of different cultures mixing together. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction or have an interest in Australian settlements by the British and their impact on the native people.
Butterflies & Demons
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