Barbara Erasmus reviews Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker in the Sunday Times

Local eco-romance novel will blow you away

There are no blurred lines between the good and bad guys who all get their just desserts – cynical readers must bear in mind that Volker’s genre is romance rather than noir

By Barbara Erasmus

Many South Africans will identify with the heroine of Melissa Volker’s debut novel Shadow Flicker – she experiences panic attacks.

But unlike the gender-based violence currently grabbing the headlines, hers aren’t triggered by rape or murder – they date back to a grisly shark encounter.

This is not the only unexpected aspect in this absorbing debut novel, the first release by Karavan Press, the publishing house recently established in Cape Town by Karina M Szczurek, editor, writer and critic.

Publishing books is a brave venture in an industry struggling internationally in the face of the digital onslaught but Szczurek is well-known in local literary circles, not only through her marriage to André Brink. She is determined to nurture writers who may have been overlooked by mainstream publishers.

Shadow Flicker_LR for web

Shadow Flicker, the novel selected to kick-start this new venture, is classified as an eco-romance, a deserving winner of the Strelitzia Award in 2017, given to the most promising manuscript by ROSA – the local Romance Writers organisation.

Volker explains that the difference between a love story and romance is that the latter has a happy ending – a refreshing change in the current gloom. Her novel has the obligatory romantic ingredients – a good-looking, sexy hero and heroine ranged against a cast of suitably corrupt predators, out to enrich themselves by any means possible. Evocative descriptions lift the story above the commonplace, as well as the well-researched environmental issues it explores. Volker also writes a regular blog about surfing and skilfully incorporates her knowledge of the sport into the novel…

Continue reading review: Sunday Times

Karavan Press title: Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Shadow Flicker_LR for web

DESCRIPTION

Kate Petersen keeps her panic attacks to herself, until the day she experiences one in front of her boss. With her personal life in ruins, her job is all she’s got. When an important renewable energy assignment in an Eastern Cape surfing village comes up, she is allowed to take over only if she promises to get her anxiety under control. She decides not to tell her boss that he is sending her to the very place where all her troubles began with a tragedy which continues to haunt her.

Determined to put the past behind her, she arrives in St Francis Bay ready to placate environmental opposition to her employer’s planned wind farm. Trouble brews when she begins to fall for Matthew Sykes, the attentive vet and surfer who is still grieving the death of his wife.

Meanwhile, the parochial locals escalate their protests, from peaceful resistance to creepy threats, and Kate is forced to confront her worst fears as well as risk exposing her fragile state of mind to Matthew and her client.

Then the violence intensifies and Matthew turns out to have a few secrets of his own. Kate understands that their growing relationship and her job are at stake, but she doesn’t know that her life is also in danger …

ISBN: 978-0-6399942-0-8

Also available on Kindle: Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Publication date: 1 June 2019

 

WHAT READERS SAY

“An enthralling tale of romance, surfing, environmentalism and healing.”

— Martinique Stilwell, surfer and author of Thinking Up a Hurricane

 

“Melissa A. Volker deftly weaves romance, eco-fiction and surf noir into a gripping saga in Shadow Flicker. In the small coastal village made popular by The Endless Summer, the restless wind brings waves, haunted memories, and the promise of a green energy future. Volker takes you to the heart of the turbulence.”

— Glen Thompson, surfer, historian & writer

 

ROSA-Strelitzia-Winner-Badge“The Romance is thoroughly believable and satisfying. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year!”

“I especially enjoyed the very real South African setting and characters, the unique surfing background, and also that the hero and heroine and their conflicts were not clichéd.”

“It was fresh, well written.”

— ROSA’s Strelitzia Award Judges, 2017

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa A. Volker 1MELISSA A. VOLKER was born in Port Elizabeth to an American mother and a South African father. She is a reader, writer, blogger, recycler and award-winning stand-up paddler. A few years ago, while taking a break from a career in beauty therapy, she studied creative writing. She now writes romantic environmental fiction and blogs about writing and surfing. Her first novel, Shadow Flicker, won the Strelitzia Award from the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa in 2017 (given to the most promising manuscript), and her second novel, A Fractured Land, was published in the United States a year later. Karavan Press is proud to publish new editions of both titles in 2019.