Title: The Settling Earth
Author: Rebecca Burns & Shelly Davies
2014 – Short Stories
The Premise: A wave of colonists from England migrate to New Zealand to build settlements, start new lives, and hopefully become wealthy. However, things aren’t always as they seem on the surface. Each of the stories in this collection is told from the viewpoint of a different colonist (plus one from the perspective of a Maori native!) as they try to discover what it takes to survive and thrive in this vastly differently landscape.
The Opening Line: Sarah woke to a fierce north wind.
What I Loved: This collection was extremely short – on my e-reader it was a scant 88 pages. This made it the perfect palate cleanser between two longer works. It was also perfect because each story was really short, enabling me to read a story, play a couple levels on a game, read a story, eat some dinner, etc. And each story was linked and interconnected to the other stories, which made my sense of discovery more palpable. I spent my time searching for connections and relationships between stories, characters, and events. So it was really perfect for that moment in my life when I needed something quick and surprising.
What I Didn’t Love: While the length was great, I sometimes felt unable to invest in the characters and their stories as much as I wanted to because I only got the quickest glimpse into their lives. I didn’t always know a character’s motives or backstory or secret hopes and dreams that a reader uses to determine how they feel about a character. So while the characters and stories were fairly dynamic for their length, I really just wanted more of each one.
Final Thoughts: I typically don’t read short stories. I usually want to lose myself in an adventure, feel the rush of romance, or be transported to an entirely new world – all things that I associate with longer novels. That being said, this was a fantastic collection of short stories chronically the settlement of New Zealand by the English. The themes of hope, friendship, and survival were all here, plus I loved reading about the things transported to New Zealand along with the settlers. And the final story by Shelly Davies was powerful. That last line really got me. Overall, I enjoyed this one.