Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published March 27th 2019
Has she been working for the bad guys all along?
Few novels are set in Perth, the most isolated capital in the world. Duncan Kyle set two thrillers here in the late 80's. (The Honey Ant and Exit). Fewer still are post-apocalyptic with caped crusaders, but that is what local author Jessica Messenger (known to her friends as 'Jess Mess') has given us – a novella of considerable charm and thoughtfulness, beautifully written and deeply engaging.
I defy anyone to read just twenty pages and then stop. This is a novella to be read at a single sitting and then re-read to appreciate and admire the neat touches and flourishes she has deftly inter-woven into the narrative.
Developed and adapted from her play of the same name, The Night Guardian is a compelling story of good and evil set where we work and play in Perth.
The titular Night Guardian, Ellen Smith, is a paranormally gifted police officer in a super-hero costume, taken as a small child from her parents and trained and brought up to be a tool of the State – chief face of the Police Force, superior in intellect, ostensibly devoid of feelings, but as Hamlet remarked 'I could … count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.'
Jessica Dianne Messenger (Photograph courtesy Ms Messenger)
While absolutely not being derivative in any way, the book is a true original, it does have echoes of Orwell's 1984 in its depiction of absolutely total State control and just the tiniest hint of Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, as indeed do most dystopian novels.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, devoured it at a gulp and am left hungry for more.
I look forward with eager anticipation to Ms Messenger's next work. Already an admirer of her stage and improvisation work (Sense and Spontaneity) I am astounded at the range of her skills.
The Night Guardian is available as a paperback and kindle edition from Amazon.com here.