Review: Eithe’s Way by Rhian Waller

WHAT do The Sin Eater, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and The Gremlins have in common?
If you are Welsh, a literary buff, or even both, the answer is easy. If not, they are the debut novels by three of Wales’ greatest authors writing in the English language: Alice Thomas Ellis, Dylan Thomas and Roald Dahl.
There is something in Wales that inspires great fiction. Perhaps it is the labyrinth of mines under the mountains, the cloud covered mountains, or green valleys dampened by Welsh rain. Here is a place where language, tradition and landscape are connected to a lost and ancient past, shrouded in mystery and legend.
It is a principality of many worlds.
Eithe’s Way is the debut novel of Wales’ newest and most promising writer of fiction, Rhian Waller.
Rhian, aged 29, has been using words to jump into other worlds since she learned to read. In time, she decided that she would like to create some worlds of her own so other people could visit them.
And Eithe has her own way in one of these worlds.
Eithe is a young woman uncertain of her place in life. Locked into a destructive and abusive relationship, Eithe makes a life changing decision when she takes her fate into her own hands and escapes into an adventure of self-discovery.
As she begins to explore this new freedom, she finds herself unexpectedly in the middle of another more sinister reality where she embarks on a metaphysical journey with ‘the man in the mirror’.
With a passing homage to Stephen R Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant novels or Life on Mars, Eithe’s journey asks questions of the reader: where do we go when we are unconscious? Where roams the spirit of a person in a coma?
Despite her vulnerability, Eithe’s limbo exists within that in-between place, as she finds her own destiny and that of the man in the mirror are inextricably linked.
Eithe’s Way has all the elements of a mystery thriller. It is darkly humorous and at times brutal, this story of the transience and impermanence of life is written in a quirky and elegant style that takes us into the ‘other world’, where the veil between the living and the not quite dead is at its thinnest.
Quite simply Eithe’s Way is one of the finest debut novels from a Welsh writer in a very long time.
Rhian Waller may not yet be the next Alice Thomas Ellis or Roald Dahl, but there again, she might be.
Highly recommended.
Eithe’s Way is available as either a paperback or digital download from Amazon at: