A fantasy novel reflecting real-world truth, Kyra Johnson
Sequel to The Severed Land (Maurice Gee)
Penguin Random House New Zealand
November 19, 2021
Truthmaker by Tony Chapelle is the new sequel to Maurice Gee’s The Severed Land. It is based on the characters of Maurice Gee’s story and picks up where it left off. The two main characters, Fliss and Minnie, are safe on one side of the wall which separates them from the abusive, wealthy and powerful Families, primarily the Morisettes. Both Fliss and Minnie are ex-slaves from the Families, put to work under horrible conditions because of their skin colour. But they have escaped that and are happily living on the other side of the wall. However, when a persuasive and handsome man comes along, Fliss feels something change in the peace around them. The man calls himself ‘Truthmaker’, and claims that there will be peace and unity if the invisible wall comes down. Most people believe him, but Fliss is doubtful of his intentions.
Fliss speaks her worries to Lorna, the New One who watches over the wall, and Fliss sets off with Minnie to go through the wall on Lorna’s orders. The two of them sneak their way through areas of the Families, in search of Minnie’s husband, Mutch. When they eventually find him, they all – with the help of others – make their plans to stop Truthmaker and the terrible Morisettes from bringing the wall down and disrupting their peace. Plans are made and people are gathered, but will it be enough to stop Truthmaker and the Morisettes?
Throughout the story, the characters develop a little. The relationships between characters also change, mostly for the better. I noticed that the enslavement and mistreatment of characters who have coloured skin, such as Fliss and Minnie, directly reflect the racism our real world faces. These issues have hardly lessened and there is still much to be done around the world based on skin colour, race and more.
I think the author’s purpose was to show what humans can be like sometimes. For the most part, this is about racism and how badly we can treat others. No one in the world is the same – we all have different personalities, perspectives and appearances. If we are all different, why should we treat each other horribly? Why should one group of people treat people who look different badly, when we are all equal? The second lesson I found in Truthmaker was making sure you fully trust someone before you follow them or, like Fliss, basically put your life in their hands. If you aren’t certain that they won’t lie or turn on you, don’t trust them. Don’t let yourself be persuaded by that person.
The novel was short to medium length, the chapters were a good size and it was easy to read. I didn’t find it particularly interesting in the beginning, but it got better as the story progressed. I think that even if you haven’t read Maurice Gee’s The Severed Land, you can still understand the plot and characters. I give this book 3/5 stars and recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy and adventure reads.
- Kyra Johnson lives in Greymouth.