Magpies Reviews 'Nor'East Swell'
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Nor'East Swell (2022) Aaron Topp, 319pp. ISBN: 978 1 99003 501 2 $25.00
Your wairua never leaves you forever, pal. Despite what you might think. It just gets lost from time to time.
Witi’s father has been missing for eight long years, no one knows where he is. At least, that’s what Witi and his mother believe. But Witi’s koro knows otherwise. Turns out that Witi’s father is a guardian of the portal between everyday life and Te Kore, another dimension... beyond our reality, a portal that is sometimes made manifest by the biggest waves that roll in to the shore.
Like his father, Witi is a surfer, his surfing skills made more potent by the fact that he too—unbeknownst to him—is a guardian.
His forthcoming task is to follow in his father’s footsteps and close the portal once again before unscrupulous characters can utilise its energy—its ‘titanic poetry’—for their own materialistic ends.
With his best friend Alana and a brand new but uncertain acquaintance, Jordy, the trio head to a remote coast to catch the waves and help fulfil Witi’s destiny. There they find danger, their lives at risk, and the machineries of greed laid out on the beach.
Like the waves themselves, this is a rollercoaster of a story, told in colloquial language that manages to successfully incorporate some lovely poetic prose as well.
Themes of climate change and Māori spirituality are cohesively combined, albeit the technology intended to capture the energy of Te Kore is rather vague—maybe necessarily so.
Because the author eschews the conventions of quotation marks to indicate speech, readers are thrown into a sea of words, which is perhaps reflective of Witi’s own situation.
A sequel looks likely. 14+.