The Crystal Bird by Helen Drayton

by Shivanee Ramlochan, Paper Based Blogger

One thing may be apparent above others, on a first reading of The Crystal Bird: we’re in the hands of someone who has considered her historical fiction carefully, and with no shortage of passionate investment. The story charts the adventures of two archaeologists who stumble across a fascinating find in the late nineties, one that leads them to interact with a sequestered civilization, the Ashai tribe. As a far more advanced society, the Ashais are in possession of secrets that could change the face of both medicine and warfare. Herein lies a moral dilemma, however: do the archaeologists honour the private, proudly-guarded traditions of the Ashai, or smuggle this chemical bounty back to the outside world?

The innate lyricism of Drayton’s language is evident in her two poetry collections, Brown Doves and Brown Doves II: Passages. She brings this wordplay to bear in the composition of The Crystal Bird, and bolsters her attention to language with the development of a uniquely-visioned epic. In summing up their thoughts on the novel, Kirkus Reviews hails it as “a unique, engaging story of star-crossed love, history and mythical magic.” A spellbinding account of what happens when two civilizations collide, mixed in with views from the present time and days of yore, Helen Drayton’s first novel is unmissable for those who like their historical fiction relevant, emotionally resonant, and page-turning.