Paradise Broken revolves around three married couples on a horse packing camping and hunting trip in the remote New Zealand backcountry.
The couple’s destination is an extraordinarily beautiful place they call “paradise.” Author Rob Marshall chronicles the intertwining lifelong friendship of the couples from childhood playmates to married adults. Brent and Stevo, the main male protagonists, discovered “paradise” during a hunting trip and vowed to return with their loved ones. The couple’s journey is filled with physical challenge and wonder.
Interwoven into Marshall’s narrative is the story of three indigenous brothers brought together by adoption in the Maori tradition of whangaii, the caring for non-biological children. Years later, escaping from a crime, the brothers embark to “paradise” on a rum- and drug- fueled horseback hunting trip of their own. The brothers consider “paradise” theirs by birthright and are resentful of outsiders.
Meanwhile, a mysterious growth hormone leaking from the cargo of a plane crash, is turning “paradise’s” flora and fauna into vicious mutations, such as flesh-eating eels and supersized spiders.
As the story unfolds, Marshall skillfully propels the couples, Maori brothers and deadly wildlife towards their ill-fated and tragic juncture.
An expert outdoorsman, Marshall’s familiarity with New Zealand’s backcountry provides an intimate portrait of the people, cultures, plants and animals. His writing is often beautifully descriptive: “…the country seemed to raise up straight out of the ground. One moment they would be riding through open valleys, and the next thing, the river closed in until there was nothing but sheer rock faces rising straight above.”
He develops his characters slowly, and the journey towards “paradise” is methodically constructed. At times, though, this simmering buildup and unnecessary attention to detail can be paragraph-skippingly slow: “Stevo scoffed. “You should know better than that Brent. My Hilux is far more capable than your Mitsubishi.”
Overall, however, Paradise Broken offers an intriguing plot and outdoor adventure that should appeal to readers who like action mixed with beauty, romance and danger.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.