The TripFiction Book Club January/February 2020 reads ‘A Death in the Medina’ by James von Leyden
Jessica is a PhD candidate living in southernmost Tasmania, studying the activity of the glow worms that inhabit Winter Cave, an untouched haven she discovered herself. Aside from study and work, Jessica spends most of her time with her controlling partner, Matthew. While he claims to love Jessica, Matthew is physically and emotionally abusive towards her. In her past, Jessica has suffered a number of traumas: she was raised in a doomsday cult, and was surrounded by cruel and damaged adults for her formative years. It is easier for her to avoid thoughts of her past, and to put all her energy into ensuring her relationship with Matthew endures and thrives, despite his awful behaviour.
When Matthew goes missing, suddenly disappearing from his car into the thick Tasmanian wilderness, Jessica is heartbroken. The search for Matthew is stagnant from the beginning, with the police implying drugs are involved, and Matthew’s family assuming he’s taken off with another woman. As Jessica searches for her own answers, she meets a group of women whose boyfriends, husbands and partners have been, they say, taken by the woods and transformed into literal monsters.
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