We may have put South America in the title for the blog post, but we’re also hopping over to the left-hand side of the continent to talk about one of the most diverse literary inspirations going – the Amazon rainforest.
From Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo to Deep in the Jungle of Doom by R.L Stine, the dense forest areas of South America have always been able to stir the imagination of writers, and this is most definitely true in the case of Charmain Hussey and her novel, The Valley of Secrets.
Whilst we’re stretching the truth somewhat to say that the entire book is set in South America, the story outlines the tale of an orphan that goes by the name of Stephen Lansbury, and travels between London and Cornwall, with a healthy dose of deepest, darkest South America in there too.
The novel begins in London at the orphanage, where the protagonist learns that a distant relation has passed away, leaving his entire Cornish estate to Stephen. Much like the pre-teen boy in this tale, until we arrive at the grand house in the south of Cornwall, we have little idea of what this distant great-uncle had done for a living, and quite what state the house will be in. When he does arrive, Stephen finds a little version of the Amazon rainforest has developed and grown in this oddly acclimatised Cornish valley, and with it, a weaving tale of English politics and foreign creatures begins.
Though the tale is written for young adults, the story is a beautiful one, and could resonate for many an adult reader, too. Stephen finds a journal penned by his great-uncle, and through that the reader finds out an awful lot about South America and the Amazon, so much so that the setting almost becomes a character of its own right in the novel.
The language is so bright and visual, you can’t help but imagine you too are surrounded by jungle and watching eyes – and it’s for this reason that we think you’ll enjoy this South American-inspired novel. So, perhaps the next time your eyes begin to tire of the Brazilian World Cup, pick up The Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey to escape to a very different side of the continent…