Title: Gom’s Gold
Author: S.L. Mills
Publisher: Stem Enterprises/self-published
Published: 7th December 2014
Synopsis: A fairytale castle surrounded by rainbows stands high on a plateau in Australia’s Blue Mountains.
Inhabited by a strange boy with a pet magpie and a grumpy old man, it is just too much for orphaned twins Jolie and Joey to resist.
Despite warnings from the townsfolk of Wattle Gum, they venture across the castle’s threshold and quickly unravel its mysteries.
But sinister forces soon separate the twins and they must battle powerful enemies to reunite and save their world.
GOM’s Gold is a story about belonging, about outsiders seeking a place of their own.
It is a story about the human desire to chase rainbows, and about discovering that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is really the power you hold within.
Joey and Jolie have been living with foster families ever since they were orphaned at a young age. At twelve, they find themselves living with a new foster family in the New South Wales Blue Mountains. While at school, they meet Peabody, who is just as much an outsider as them. One day they see a rainbow and a castle that nobody else can see – and from there, their journey begins as they follow the rainbow, and stumble across GOM and his gold – and a castle filled with Druids, dragons and Arthur – whom appears to be inspired by King Arthur – who are trying to protect the gold and world of the Druids from an enemy known as the Seamstress. As Joey and Jo help GOM and his friends fight the Seamstress, they discover more about themselves and their abilities than they had ever known, and some to discover that sometimes, where you belong is the least likely of places.
It is very rare to see any fantasy stories set in Australia itself – this is perhaps the first I have read that has actually been set in Australia, however, I have read many by Australian authors set in a multitude of fantasy worlds. Here though, is one that combines Australia, the modern day and various mythical and legendary traditions, such as Chinese dragons, Irish mythology, Druids and Arthurian legends with two children and a unique take on all that has come before to create a unique Australian fantasy story, with diverse characters from various myth cycles and stories from well-known traditions.
Here, the recognisable elements of fantasy can be seen in many ways and are married to the natural environment of the Blue Mountains. The narrative is told primarily in first person, with the chapters alternating between Joey and Jolie’s perspectives. In doing so, each twin is given a voice and we are given an insight into who they are as individuals as well as a pair, and how different situations affect them and how they respond in different ways.
This is a great stand-alone novel for those aged twelve and over, that will appeal to many readers, as it has a sense of adventure, magic and combines fantasy, technology and the natural world and a diverse cast of characters to create a uniquely Australian fantasy story that I am sure will be enjoyed by many.