Native Companions: Dreamtime Mysteries
by Jenni Barnett

"Rex needed to know more about his unwritten history: something he could not learn from anyone else."

Rex Graham is an Australian anthropology student working on his thesis about pre-European Aboriginal culture and history—his history. After the death of his beloved grandmother, Rex takes a walkabout to Yaraan Grove, searching for inspiration and knowledge. Resting under Gran Yan, a sacred Aboriginal tree, Rex enters his own Dreamtime as the ancient tree begins to recount the various legends of the Booran tribe.

Filled with rich imagery and detail, this novel takes readers on a journey through the history and myths of Aboriginal culture. The first in a trilogy, the book focuses on the Booran tribe and their encounters with nature, the supernatural, and other Australian native tribes. Each tale is interwoven with the next, starting with the tales of the priest Ooraawoo and his adopted sons, Brolga and Kaii, and ending with Wiliwanda’s time-travel journey, unlocking key information about the Mullian tribe. The author weaves these tales together not chronologically but according to relevance in natural prose.

With Gran Yan acting as the narrator, reading through this book feels like storytime, and with a glossary and a breakdown of characters, the stories are easy to follow along. The stories, in essence, capture the strong bond the Booran people have with nature—how they live off and with the land, communicating with it, respecting it, learning from it. Like any good collection of myths, there is also the educational aspect of these tales. Readers will learn about the spirits the Booran people believe in, manhood initiation ceremonies, and other cultural practices such as communication rules and skin signs with other tribes. Blending a fictional premise with well-researched legends, this book is a great starter read for those interesting in learning more about Aboriginal stories.

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