A review of Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten by L. E. Daniels.
After twelve years trapped in the throat of a serpent, a girl escapes, but the journey is just beginning. Unlike the usual hero journey where the character faces adversity, finds the magic key and escapes into a brilliant sunset, L. E. Daniels’ “heroine” in Serpent’s Wake, is about to encounter a trail of pitfalls and challenges that lead to not salvation, but transformation.
This brilliant piece of writing uses symbolic milestones with unprecedented proficiency. As a writer I was captivated by the technical skill in Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten by L. E. Daniels. The entire book is written in show not tell. That may sound easy; but believe me it isn’t. I hold Serpent’s Wake up as an exemplar when I run workshops on Show Not Tell at local Brisbane libraries.
On a personal level, as with most of us, my life has involved ups and downs, wins and losses, grief, triumphs. The underlying currents of deep personal grief and growth in the main character; exploring the complexity of layers that a soul develops to survive or thrive, resonated and provided texture and understanding that I could apply to my own life. The skill of a great writer is in making the reader feel like the main character, even in a situation as seemingly absurd as a girl leaving the belly of a giant serpent to resume her life – the metaphor utterly satisfying in this brilliant book.
When I closed the back cover, I had to get to know this writer. I reached out and asked what inspired this tremendous tale.
Author’s Words on the inspiration behind Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten by L. E. Daniels:
“When readers ask where the story came from, I see the faces of the people who inspired it. I met them in a homeless shelter, a nursing home…I spoke with combat veterans and Aboriginal people here in Australia, and back in New England and the American Southwest. There are people who left religious orders and those who knew all kinds of grief, displacement and trauma in this story. They all left little golden trails of wisdom and I wanted to share each one,” says Daniels.
She says that, “On one level, it’s a journey story. Some readers write to say they’ve booked sea voyages as soon as the story ends. On another level, it speaks to people who have been deeply hurt, who live with some form of a sacred wound–the ones that never fully close. Those wounds shape us and we can grow more spacious from them.”
An experienced writer, mentor and editor of 80+ published titles, Daniels has used her talent to write a book full of complex characters, brilliant use of metaphor and an intuitive understanding about trauma and the human condition.
“There is something so special about trauma, but it’s rarely the focus. We all want to ‘get over it’ and move on. But trauma is also unifying and expansive. Regardless of the details, the core of deep wounding is universal and it comes with so much potential for growth. We can see ourselves and others more clearly through its lens. And our own depths can surprise us. Our strength, compassion, innate wisdom, and our deep ability to love when it feels like we’ve lost everything are some of the most beautiful and powerful faces of our humanity.
“The story traces the milestones of trauma and recovery–from initial shock to new life–and draws them symbolically into a narrative. People who know trauma recognise these contours. Maybe this exploration serves as a kind of map, so we don’t feel alone, even at our most bottomless moments. Maybe something profound happens when we feel understood. Maybe we can access some kind of inner wellspring that’s always been there.
“I don’t fully understand all this but I know something grew within me when I traced this path and something happens for readers. Maybe some of us have to find our edges to find our humanity. And when it’s done, it’s powerful.”
And powerful it is. The Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten by L. E. Daniels was shortlisted with the International Half the World Global Literati Award 2016, ranking 4th in the top 40 for the People’s Choice Award.
Serpent’s Wake is intended for adults and young adults exploring how, once fractured, we may mend. One of the book’s many reviews tells it best, ‘A tale that weaves around your heart in your darkest times…and points to the greatest lesson of all – that in suffering lies freedom’…
Read More about Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten by L. E. Daniels.
If you’re interested in developing superior skills in writing you may like to visit Brisbane Writers Workshop.
If you’ve enjoyed Carolyn Martinez’s review of Serpent’s Wake: A Tale for the Bitten, you might also enjoy reading her review of Uriel’s Gift by Edward Spellman.