It’s Mad Martha with you today with a special treat! I have a sweet little indie title for your perusing pleasure, made all the sweeter for its having an Australian author (yippee!). Stay tuned after my review to meet David Chattaway and find out the inspiration behind this engaging little tale.
Blind Servitude by David Chattaway follows the story of Eli, a young boy who, along with his family, has lived his whole life in an underground mine, toiling for an unseen overlord. When Eli accidentally discovers a secret passage that may lead to freedom (or certain death!) he is excited to tell his family. But at the same time Eli is uncovering the mine’s secrets, a siren is sounding elsewhere in the mine – a siren indicating that his mother will never be returning from her work shift. When Eli’s brother and sister are abducted in the regular “harvest”, Eli is more determined than ever to get his father to listen to his plan to find the secret tunnel and see if it leads to escape. Along the way, Eli will have to dodge the guards, particularly the sadistic “Savage”, evade the creepy “Shadow” lady and rely on his father, blind old Jeri and his mysterious, silent friend Peta in order to risk everything for a slim chance at freedom.
Dwelling in darkness
cage bars built from despair
Will hope find a way?
Blind Servitude is a reasonably short story that has a definite feel of the old-time fable about it. Eli, the young boy at the centre of the story, is the unlikely hero, shifted from the complacency of his everyday life collecting and repairing tools for the workers by a desire for something more, something adventurous. He alone has the courage to believe that his mother and siblings may not yet be lost to death, after his discovery of a tunnel that shouldn’t exist, given what the mine-dwellers have always been told.
The story unfolds fairly slowly, given the short length of the book, and this isn’t an action-packed adventure story by any means, despite the fact that there’s climbing and breaking and entering and pursuit by malevolent creatures all bound up in this small package. Instead the suspense builds slowly, all the time reflecting Eli’s personal growth as he faces challenges that cause him to question everything he has ever known and chases after a slim hope that there could be something better awaiting all the mine-dwellers provided they are prepared to risk letting go of their unhappy, but predictable lives.
The characters aren’t particlarly developed as individuals, but each plays a significant role in Eli’s journey, particularly the guard whom Eli calls the Savage. The Savage is almost the personification of the mine-dwellers’ misery, subjugating the people through violence and threats in order to uphold a system that is unjust and ultimately unproductive for all but those at the top of the chain.
Overall this is an ethereal tale that will have you reflecting on the power of hope and the playing-off between risk and reward.
David Chattaway has kindly offered two readers (Australian residents ony) the chance to win a print copy of Blind Servitude. To enter, simply click on the rafflecopter link below where you’ll find Ts & Cs.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now it’s time to meet the generous and talented creator of this tale! Welcome, David, to the Shelf!
Blind Servitude is a thoroughly thought-provoking tome! Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
I wanted to write a story which was uplifting and had a positive message. It started as a very short story, focusing on a family’s desperation to escape an underground prison. Initially the story was far more science fiction with Aliens being the prison guards. As I began typing the story evolved and changed and I was left with a tale of a boys journey from darkness to light.
A lot of the characters seem to be flawed in one way or another – was this important to you when creating them and how does it impact on the way the story unfolds?
The story is about hope and overcoming adversity, but the characters are real and their situation is somewhat hopeless, especially at the beginning. I wanted the reader to relate to Eli, understanding the reasons that drive him to continue but also appreciating that he is challenging the nature of the world he had lived in.
Why did you choose Eli as your protagonist? Was it essential that he be young in order to accomplish his quest?
The story is dedicated to my Godson Eli and it was written for younger readers so I wanted to make the protagonist be young. One of the important aspects to this story is Eli convincing his father to believe his reasoning for escape and I felt that trusting someone young, especially when you’re almost blind and surrounded by danger was a message in itself. Eli represents the child in all of us, the innocent and trusting part which believes everything will be okay, that no matter how dark your life is that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Who is the perfect reader for Blind Servitude and is there a particular message you’d like them to take away from the story?
The book is suitable for both young readers and the young at heart…
– Trust your instincts and believe in good prevailing. Seek the truth and never give up! That is the message of this book.
If you had to sum the book up in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Blind Servitude is the tale of a young boy’s journey to find his courage in a world where fear is used as a weapon and love is the only light.
Have you got any works in progress that we should watch out for and do you plan to feature gargoyles in any of your future writings?
I’ve completed the first draft of a paranormal fantasy novel named Mal’akh. It’s a story about Angels and Demons, good versus evil… it will be book one of a trilogy I have planned.