Feedback & Review


Hi Ben,

I mentioned I’d journaled some thoughts so decided I would pass them on. I’m not sure how much value they will be to you but I considered that if I was to write a book, I would be fascinated in the way different people interpreted themes or relationships. Every reader is bound to relate to different elements. I think that the way we read something is often tainted by our own life experience.  So I guess really this is about how your book was relatable to me and my life experiences.

This is in no way a critique of the book and how it was written. I dare say there are more qualified people for that job. Just wanted to share some of my reflections.

First and foremost, congratulations on writing a book. I loved writing stories as a young girl and dreamed of writing a book. It’s fair to say that passion was left behind at a young age but I still thoroughly enjoy reading and journaling. It’s cheap therapy!

As I said the other day, reading ‘The Treeman’s Curse’ was quite a unique experience. Knowing you (to a certain extent) did seem to impact on the way I was reading it and analysing characters and meaning.  Perhaps knowing the author helps you to look a little deeper in to the themes and consequently find more of yourself too. My curiosity on how it related back to you, as the author, lead me to discover your blogs and the insights you shared there. Particularly regarding your relationship with your father. It’s clear that writing this book was a passionate process that came with lots of risk both financially and I’ll bet emotionally. It’s an incredibly courageous thing to have done, to put so much of yourself out there, so well done, I envy your bravery. 

One thing I’ve noticed Ben is that you don’t do things by half! It’s all in. ‘

So, to move on to the things that stood out most for me. I felt that book had strong themes around hope, trust and love. Crystal always had hope, Jonty was learning to trust again and love was underpinning all the main characters in some way. 

Funnily enough the most relatable ‘character’ in the book for me was The Book of Clues itself. Reading your blog on ‘Books are People’ really cemented that connection for me. (It was a really good read, you should write more blogs). 

Here is why I was drawn to the book of clues. To me it represented an aspect of relationships. Crystal was immediately drawn to the book and had an irresistible desire to go to it, she couldn’t resist it and threw caution to the wind to learn more. And then the book itself, a closed book, hidden in a dark room, underground, protected by a maze of thorns, sitting, waiting, for the right person to come along and be brave enough to take a risk and solve its riddles. But still only revealing one chapter or story at a time. As Crystal invested and discovered the secret or riddle to each page, the next part would ‘light up’. Trust and patience. 

So I often I reflect and think of myself as a closed book, or as having very sturdy walls around me I’ve build up over time (thorn maze) stopping ‘just anyone’ from breaking through. I also related to only revealing one chapter at a time and only to those that will take the time to invest and solve the puzzle (learn who I really am) first. Then being able to light up and reveal more as the trust and commitment grows. Love and trust pushed Crystal to never giving up. You could also add faith and strength. All great words for her character. 

Secondly, was The Treeman. I think many people could relate to The Treeman for lots of reasons. He was many things but most of all for me was that he was transformed from the man he used to be into a Treeman. Put under a spell, against his will and made to be something else. Still the same person underneath yet transformed nonetheless. This screamed to me of my own experience on a lot of levels. I related to the way the Treeman became the lonely tree, finding a way to still be part of the children’s daily lives, being present in the only way he saw how but also unable to be the parent he wanted to be.

Another aspect of the Treeman I liked was his life force. The glowing roots. When he hit an emotional and battle-weary rock bottom, scarred and depleted with only a faint glow left in his roots, there was still hope. Family love and passion breathed life and glow back in to him. That too is a journey I’ve been on. I’ve had times in my life where I didn’t know where to find the strength or energy to keep going, like only the dimmest light still faintly glowed inside. I had to keep the faith and eventually find the love and passion for a great many things in order to restore that glow.

Dilsian and Muddy – two of my favourites. Why? Because I could name them both with the names of people that I know. They really were relatable characters for me. I’ve had a Dilsian come in to my life when I had nearly lost all hope, picked me up, perhaps even held me up, guided me and pointed in the right direction. And a Muddy, a source of solace, a shoulder, a homely feeling, a guide through endless dark tunnels and ultimately someone that would sacrifice much to help me find my way out. 

Oh, and as far as favourites, if I had to choose which character I wanted to be, it would be Crystal. She was innocent, yet strong and intelligent. She always had faith and never lost hope. I have wondered if she represented your sister? And are those the characteristics you wanted the audience to see in Crystal? Just curious. 

I hope this was at least interesting to see how someone else reflected on the characters and themes of the book. As I mentioned before, I think we all bring our own experiences in to a story and perhaps see different things (intended or otherwise). 

And might I add, despite my character analysis (much of which was formulating but not fully contemplated until after I finished it), as a story it was a great read. I frequently found myself lost in the tale and just reading for the enjoyment of the story that was unfolding. It was a fun and entertaining little journey. Great work, I hope you continue to peruse something you are no doubt very passionate about. 

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