House of the Waterlily

Written by Kelli Carmean
Review by Ann Northfield

Subtitled “A Novel of the Ancient Maya World”, the novel is set in the fictitious civilisation of Calumook. The manners and customs of the Mayan world are clear from the outset as the novel begins with ritual meetings to arrange the marriage of the main character and narrator, Lady Winik, who is one of a royal line. Her position and privileged status are evident, but in a dangerous and ever-changing world, power is a fickle friend. The reader will learn a great deal from the novel about the religion, respect for the ancestors, respect for knowledge about the stars, and strange customs, such as wearing a press to shape the skull to look like a maize kernel.

The author has a doctorate in this area and as such is an expert in Mayan culture and architecture. This comes across throughout the novel. The characters tend towards being somewhat cardboard representatives rather than real and rounded, although there are moments of tension and suspense along with some genuinely shocking moments. It was a violent yet civilised world in many ways. A minor plot of a love interest towards a young sculptor just seems to disappear and leads nowhere, although this could have been a strong example of how quickly dreams, fantasies and indulging of feelings all disappear when catastrophe occurs.