By: Beth Franz
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: July 21, 2022
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: August 7, 2022
Author Beth Franz has created a future, or perhaps, a parallel planet where her two dynamic heroines can interact and strive together to shape a more positive society in Ndalla's World.
Franz’s story begins in a simple, mundane setting where a woman named Julia is struggling with her inner worries and general discouragement about her lack of success in life and love. She's gazing at the moon, listening to sad songs, and having a bit of beer – when she hears noises coming from her bedroom. Investigation – with a heavy rolling pin for defense – reveals a naked man and woman lying on the floor. The woman’s name is Ndalla and she and her companion have traveled from a different time. Ndalla, whose name is the same as that of her tribe, is the queen of her people, who has been sent to seek modalities that might unite and save her conflicted world. Julia takes the two in, and slowly takes in the fantastic story they tell her.
Julia and Ndalla become passionate, so that when it is time for the visitors to leave, going in separate directions, Julia feels compelled to accompany her new love. Immersed in Ndalla’s naturally beautiful environment, where the food is somehow tastier and the “bathrooms” are the forests and rivers, Julia, the book’s narrator, gradually sifts through its unusual customs, as well as the potential dangers that lurk there. A war is imminent and Ndalla, adored and trusted by her people, must take charge, imperiling and once almost losing her life while Julia watches, helpless. The conflict with the people known as Daeika escalates, but peace still seems possible. Through contact with storytellers and healers, Julia, gradually comprehending what is at stake, begins to have an effect on events as her affection for Ndalla solidifies into absolute trust and lasting commitment.
Franz is an artist in two major spheres – sculpture and wordcraft. In the creation here of two powerful women, she allows us to feel Julia’s thoughts, even as that heroine must face concepts and experiences completely unknown to her or anyone in the contemporary world. Ndalla moves through a simple, outwardly primitive realm, but a place where, through mental and mystical control, such powers as time travel are possible. There, peaceful, psychologically sound contemplation is often the solution to deeply troubling issues, demonstrating a high level of inner advancement that those in Julia’s world might do well to learn. It’s a charming and intellectually tickling panorama with romantic, erotic touches, shaped by Franz with a deft hand and sensitive language.
Quill says: Beth Franz proves without a doubt that Ndalla’s World is worth exploring, leaving fans longing for the sequel implied in the book’s concluding pages.
For more information on Ndalla's World, please visit the website: www.writerandsculptor.com