|The Tambu Ground (Boolarong Press, 1997)|
Tapu, the sole survivor of a natural disaster on his island, sets out to claim the tambu or sacred ground on the far side of his homeland. The story meanders from the outer islands to Honiara and back again. Along the way Tapu finds a faithful sidekick, Jimmy and a beautiful young girl to rescue. But he also earns the wrath of an evil custom magic man, Jullio, who will not rest until he kills Tapu.
The tension in this book keeps the reader going but there isn't a lot of depth or insight into the characters. I found it was a pacey, exciting read, but not one of those stories that linger in your head for months and years after.
Hayes has described the Solomons well, from Honiara's uncomfortable heat and dust to the cool lush forests and bountiful lagoons of the smaller islands. I think many Solomon Islanders would enjoy reading this for all the descriptions of their homeland. When I scanned my copy for posting on this blog I forgot to peel off the price sticker. I found this book at a bargain $4 in a second-hand bookshop. Amazing what you can find when you hunt around.