Lalani of the Distant Sea


‘Humans make the mistake of believing they know best, but nature is there to remind you, at precisely the wrong time, that nature knows best’. Lalani is respectful of the nature about her Sanlagitan island home,  listening to and sharing the stories upon which she has been raised. Stories of the monster within Mount Kahna who would scratch out your eyes, and thereafter, the ghost of Ziva said to take vengeance upon sailors who set course toward the legendary northern waters around Mount Isa.

Of all of the stories, it is the one of Ziva that Lalani holds closest. She speaks to Ziva when she paddles at the sea edge. There are rumours that Ziva’s hair has been caught in the rocks. So what will Ziva make of Lalani when she escapes Sanlagita in a small ship, alone, heading to Mount Isa? It seems as though Lalani has no other option. Her mother has caught the dreaded sewing sickness, while her stepfather and stepbrother are malicious. Furthermore, the islanders blame Lalani’s journeys to Mount Kahna, seeking shek and healing plants for Toppi. Yet Lalani’s path was seen. Now, she’s on a more perilous journey, where her motives, reactions and soul will be read and known by unseen, story-bound creatures. What is her future? ‘There are invisible shadows in Lalani’s house and charged air’. Can Lalani change this possibly, and maybe something so much more?

Award winning US author, Erin Entrada Kelly, has created something lyrical and magnificent from a setting and stories we imagine as/ from the Philippine Islands. Lalani of the Distant Sea is rich and unique, confident, nature-born and magical.

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Lalani of the Distant Sea

Erin Entrada Kelly

(Templar Publishing) 

Lalani of the Distant Sea may be the stuff of stories such as those her mother tells her. She knows of Ziva who stowed away aboard a shipping boat headed north. Ziva haunts the waters now. Yet other sailors, like Lalani’s father, try to break through the haunting stories toward the mystical north and the island of Isa. There are rumours of a yellow flower with white spots that has magical healing powers. However, to find this you would have to face Fei Diwata on Mount Isa, and no one has ever been known to do that. What would you give Fei Diwata? There are rumours that she can see right into your soul.
Thereafter, what would you do if you are Lalani, revealed to the other Sanlagitan villagers, as having climbed Mount Kahna, thus starting the torrential rain? Thereafter, you’re left to face the hateful punishment of your stepfather and stepbrother, while your mother lies dying. There seems no option other than to escape in a tiny boat and risk your life to travel toward Mount Isa, the place of stories and vengeance and almost certain death.
Erin Entrada Kelly has created stories rich in her native Philippine history in Lalani of the Distant Sea. We know the strength of her storytelling and imagery from You Go First and The Land of Forgotten Girls. However, this book extends the storytelling tinto the realm of fantasy and equality, naturalism and triumph.


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