‘Things Bright And Beautiful’ is Anbara Salam’s debut novel.
Advent Island is a place beyond the reaches of Bea’s most fitful imaginings. It’s not just the rats and the hordes of mosquitos and the weevils in the powdered milk. Past the confines of their stuffy little house, amidst the damp and the dust and the sweltering heat, rumours are spreading of devil chasers who roam the island on the hunt for evil spirits. And then there are the noises from the church at night. Yet, to the amusement of the locals and the bafflement of her husband, Bea gradually adapts to life on the island. But with the dreadful events heralded by the arrival of an unexpected, wildly irritating and always-humming house guest, Advent Island becomes a hostile place once again. And before long, trapped in the jungle and in the growing fever of her husband’s insanity, Bea finds herself fighting for her freedom, and for her life.
As a debut, this book was certainly a strong and interesting one, but it was also a book that I sometimes struggled with. I initially found it difficult to get into, only because I wasn’t sure of the location or the time era that the book was set in but once I did, I found it to a compellingly claustrophobic and eerie story where nothing is what it seems.
Set against the backdrop of Advent Island, a remote island in the Pacific, the story is seen from the perspective from different characters, but primarily seen from Max and Bea, two newcomers to the island, where Max has taken up the position of Pastor and Bea, is his wife as they adjust to their new lives.
I really liked Bea, she was a strong woman, who gave up her life in America to follow her husband, she adapted to her new life with no complaint, living in dirt, little food and spent most of her time alone whilst Max was delivering his religious messages. Max, I found less interesting, as he struggled to fit into the small village and be respected, especially with Marietta, a woman who was always questioning his beliefs and thoughts.
The story is beautifully written and written in such descriptive detail, that you almost felt you were in the forests with the characters. Riddled with mystery and intrigue throughout, this story deals with the complexities of relationships, religion and culture, ‘Things Bright And Beautiful’ is an atmospheric story that transports the reader into another world.
You can buy Things Bright and Beautiful from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.