Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scarlett's Review of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Somewhere deep in a forest ravaged by the effects of mining and milling…an unlikely band of creatures readies to make a stand!

Book Description 
(per Amazon)

Set in a rainforest of an unspecified continent, Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is a tale littered with colourful and enjoyable characters, conspiracies and unlikely friendships between the species. Told through the eyes of animals the narrative explores the predatory world of deception and greed. The book carries an important missive: ‘Beware of predators in the guise of friends’. It has been described as witty and fascinating and as a story for children and adults alike. Mungai, the central character, is a jungle creature of indeterminate origin, who creates a cunning master plan allowing him to find ways of passing through life without too much cost to himself and as little effort as possible, and at the expense of others not as strong minded or as clever as he is. He goes all out to achieve his objectives, regardless of the consequences, as he sets out to destroy the rainforest for personal gain.

On his travels Mungai encounters an equally ruthless and selfish creature, a boa constrictor called Goa, and together they go in search of innocents to use to implement their designs. They subsequently meet, befriend and manage to convince all manner of creatures to join them in their venture with promises of great rewards in return for small labours. The creatures believe their efforts to be beneficial to the environment and look forward to the promised bounty. Before too long some notice their hard work continues but the rewards are not forthcoming and they begin to realize, with some input from the good outsiders they have teamed up with, the two legs, that what they are involved in is not good for anyone. Dissatisfaction begins to burgeon and rebellion is fast approaching. Mungai finds out, all too late, that those he shamelessly inveigled into his plans are not as naive as he first thought and the tables are turned. The perpetrators become the victims as Operation Equinox is devised and executed.

Product Details
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1469935163
ISBN-13: 978-1469935164
Kindle Edition File Size: 264 KB
Print Length: 191 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1469935163
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

About the Author
Having grown up in the Mediterranean and having later lived and worked in various countries, Amelia Curzon eventually settled permanently in the United Kingdom. She is the mother of two grown children who provide her with much of her inspiration in life. Amelia's interests include horses and all other animals, the environment, reading, and of course writing. Amelia has been writing short stories and poems since childhood and had created and narrated many stories to her own children in their younger years. Insomuch as her stories have always been about animals it seems only natural her first novel be written for the genres children and teen and contain lots of four legged creatures.

Amelia wrote the first draft of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor a few years ago, proudly sent the finished product to a handful of traditional publishers and after only 3 rejections felt totally defeated. Silly! But that was then. The story was put safely away. After setting up and building up her own company, she forgot all about the manuscript. Until that is, her son found it, read it and passed on to his sister to read. Between them they persuaded Amelia to try again. Spurred on by her children's faith in her, she decided to approach the task of re-editing and updating and the mammoth and mind boggling mission of self-promotion. Armed with bucket loads of good, and some bad, advice Amelia plunged headfirst into the daunting world of self-publishing. Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is now published as an eBook on Amazon and soon to be in paperback on Createspace.

My Review
Amelia Curzon has created a beautiful fable in “Mungai and the Goa Constrictor” that warns of the effects of destruction of the forest in a fashion that is innocent, entertaining and compelling.  Curzon delivers a message of conservation and preservation that comes through from the perspective of woodland creatures that have been taken in by the false promises of corporate land developers.  But not all that glitters is gold, and the grass will not remain greener on the other side if the sun scorches the Earth because the shade of trees is gone.  Well, blah…blah…blah! Mungai, Curzon’s antagonistic protagonist, couldn’t care less if the forest and the stupid woodland creatures survive, or not, he has a lucrative retirement plan to implement!

Mungai (a creature of unknown origin who changes his scent for nefarious purposes to suit his greed) and his slimy, slithering sidekick, Goa —a boa with delusions of grandeur— have other ideas for the wealth hidden in the woods.   Goa’s speech impediment presents a problem when they set about convincing the trusting creatures of the forest that it is in their best interest to get on board the fast track toward financial stability. But, Mungai is the real mouthpiece of the not-so-dynamic duo.  Mungai’s manipulations of the innocent creatures of the wood puts me in mind of  politicians during Election Year: his platform (and scent) changes to please his audience as he tells them what they want to hear, all the while manipulating them with flattery and empty promises, for his own purposes.  Goa lisps out just the right spin on Mungai’s political campaign, “Diverthity ith always refwething,” likely thinking less of social reform than of eating the subservient creatures.  While Mungai keeps a mindful eye on Goa, lest she eat away at their work-force, he spins his yarn about making his woodland friends wealthy gold miners and makers of fine furniture.

A few of the creatures begin questioning Mungai’s motives, it all sounds too good to be true. There must be some reason that Mungai “hates pigs”.  But, Mungai and Goa are so convincing that even Bodger, an old Badger whom the creatures trust, is taken in. Caw-Caw, the crow starts to think Bodger’s become a little dodgy, and so takes matters into his own claws.  The crow devises a plan to save the woodland creatures from Mungai’s devious exploitation, and his two-legged friend, Duggit, digs it!  Caw-Caw and Duggit lay the groundwork for Operation Equinox!  The woodland operatives set to work, heads, beaks, claws and paws together.  They consult a red-bottomed Oracle, enlist the aid of the Oracle’s brother Captain Gerald Rupert Horatio-um- Peanuts-Brice-Copperbottom, “three eager beavers called Bucky, Brewster and Bracken, another large brown bear known as Bilboa, and a grouchy, but really quite friendly old wolf, aptly named Gruffy” and many other woodland creatures to set their plan in motion.

Does it work?  Is Bodger really dodgy?  Does Swallow (an unfortunately named bird) finally tempt Goa beyond restraint? Does the Oracle’s hind-end get redder when he advises Caw-Caw on tactical maneuvers? Do Caw-Caw and his cohorts capture Mungai and his lisping sidekick, Goa?  You’ll have to read this wonderful book to find out.  “Mungai and the Goa Constrictor” earned 5/5 hearts from this reviewer, hands, paws, and claws, down!

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Disclosure:  I purchased this book.  My review reflects my honest opinion of the work.

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