In Shadowline Drift by Alexis Razevich, we meet Jake, a hero with a humanitarian bent who works for World United, an organization dedicated to solving global humanitarian concerns. What could be more important than solving the problem of world hunger? Jake has found a group of indigenous people in the Amazon forests who possess a secret. Use the concoction they have found and there will be no more hungry people in the world. But there are consequences; not all solutions are happy ones for all participants. This novel, a masterful combination of fantasy, illusion, and (possible) reality will entertain readers and provoke thoughts of a huge moral dilemma.
This novel was a 13 January 2017 Book Of The Day section by OnlineBookClub.org. The 210-page novel is available to read for “free” through Kindle Unlimited (KU). Published in April 2014, this book has appeal for readers of all ages who are interested in fantasy, technology, magic, and humanitarian concerns such as world hunger. It was a surprisingly quick read for me; I read it in one sitting. There is an extensive description of surviving in a hostile natural environment (the Amazon jungle) where survival on any terms is the goal. Readers with military experience in jungle operations will identify with protagonist Jake Kendrick.
Jake is trying to strike a deal with the Tabna tribe, a recently discovered tribe in the Amazon jungle. The spokesman for the tribe is Mawgis, a person who seems to know everything about Jake before Jake informs him. For convenience, let’s call Mawgis a medicine man. Mawgis has the secret of Benesha, a compound that with processing in the correct way might solve world hunger. But there are problems with Benesha. It has been successfully tested on animals but not humans. Jake sees a problem with the side effects of Banesha ingestion by humans and wants to warn World United of the problem. Mawgis sees no problem, wants to promote immediate distribution of the wonder compound and knows that he must isolate Jake and prevent Jake’s communication with World United.
Mawgis initially seems to be a helper of Jake but Mawgis is a fan of, and user of, deception. All claims and observations of Mawgis have to be filtered by Jake as to their actual meaning. Jake is aided in this by a technological translator, an ear piece worn by Jake and whoever he is communicating with. But accurate translations are difficult, some renderings are a complete puzzle. Users of Google Translate, for example, will empathize. Mawgis determines that the best way to stall Jake in his communication attempts with the home organization, World United, is to abandon Jake in the Amazon jungle. Mawgis leads Jake into the jungle, provides him with a minimum of survival equipment, and disappears.
The journey of Jake consumes approximately four chapters. We learn about the dangers of insects, reptiles, fish, wild boars and the humid climate that is the Amazon. The reader observes Jake’s attempts at spear fishing (with only home-made equipment), finding suitable fruits and vegetables to eat and, finally, a rescue by a group of female only inhabitants of a small village
Luckily, the females include one English speaking female anthropologist. Unluckily, everyone except her hates foreigners who, it seems by default, are possessed by demons. Anthropologist Pilar Ramirez has sympathy for Jake but she also has respect for the village shaman Naheyo. Along with her assistant healers, Naheyo considers it her duty to drive the demon out of Jake. He will not be permitted to leave the village and endanger others while still possessed. Naheyo is the judge of when Jake may be permitted to leave. Pilar, while sympathetic to Jake, will always defer to Naheyo. Jake needs to leave the village as soon as possible to warn World United of the dangers of Banesha. Before doing so, he must recover from the debilitating physical effects of his jungle trek.
Razevich develops the character of Jake well. Readers get a lot of insights into Jake as we watch him survive abandonment in the jungle. Before, after, and throughout his physical ordeal, Jake reflects on his earlier life as a person whose height never approached four feet tall. This, of course, affected his sense of self and ability to socially interact with strangers, friend, and colleagues. In an early discussion with Mawgis, he accepts the blame for this stunted growth. Mawgis promises Jake that this will change. And it does. During his recovery in the village with Pilar, Jake grows to over five feet tall, a reinforcement of the magic running throughout the story. Or maybe the growth was an illusion.
Jake will eventually “escape” from the village. First, he is aided by Knonee, someone from a neighboring village who paddles a canoe in which Jake rides until they reach a settlement where there is a satellite phone so Jake can reach his World United boss. But there is a problem with the phone and Jake wakes up to find he is still in the Lalunta camp with Naheyo. Then, aided by Pilar and a one-eyed parrot, Jake leaves Lalunta again. There is a romantic encounter with Pilar. Things are going well until he wakes up again, still in Lalunta. Now the question becomes, which is the reality and which is the dream?
Mawgis may have the answer. The problem is knowing when a Mawgis truth is reality and when it is an illusion. Jake discovers that he is in a position of power, Mawgis needs his help. In return for a solution to dangers of Benesha, Jake is willing to help Mawgis but how can Jake be sure he is getting an actual and true solution? Will this just be another illusion offered by Mawgis before Mawgis disappears forever from Jake’s life?
There are surprises right up to the last chapter in this entertaining fantasy novel. Good for all ages, devoid of graphic (or any) sex, violence, and bad language, this is simply a good read.