There comes a point when running from your fear chases you into a corner… Juno Lucina is an intricately woven story about fear and faith. Tess Chromain’s journey into the dangerous territory of religious fervour, domestic violence and sexual re-awakening is interlaced with her dreams, memories and research articles – to layer around her compounded grief in a climatic, literal, rebirthing of hope.
Her mother is a psychic artist, driven near to breaking point by a husband bent on conformity and control. The ugly childhood scenes have burrowed into Tess’s mind and festered there. Buried, too, are Tess’s own fledgling artistic and psychic abilities – unwanted ‘proof’ of the same inherent evil that has destroyed her family and stalked her dreams into adulthood. Tess flees into the safety of a teenage marriage, not realizing that the price of safety is her sense of self.
When her husband, Alan, is tragically killed, the anger and dissatisfaction boil over and threaten to consume her. Sent upon a reluctant journey into the world of full moon rituals, witchcraft and unexpected violence, Tess is finally forced to confront the ‘wolf’ of her nightmares. She must learn anew to trust – her mother, her psychic instincts, and also Jeff, an unheralded admirer from her past.
Excerpt:The unsealed track beyond the cars etched up the hill through the long grass and scrub, bleached white in the moonlight. Gravel transformed to bone and shell, wild daisies to luminous stars. The breeze nipped at her neck.Wind-cowed pine trees sprinkled the rugged landscape, the nightmare silhouettes of kid’s cartoons. She followed the track up the hill, head jerking towards each faint sound. Her eyes scanned gloomy mounds, fear of the dark never quite exorcised from childhood. The climb steepened. Halfway up, her foot slipped. She threw herself forward to avoid damaging the camera gear, the tripod jabbing into the back of her head as she thudded down into lupin. The acrid smell of crushed plant-life mingled with the burning sting of knees and elbows. Tears of self-pity ripened in her eyes.As she brushed off the dirt, voices--disconnected and haunting--wafted down the hill. Thud-thud, thud-thud--her pulse pounding in her ears. The rhythm of a chant seeping into her, matching its beat with her own.She reached the crest of the hill. Perched above the crashing swell of the sea, the Cook Strait an infinity of water. And above, the moon. Huge and fierce. Spotlight for the stage below.There they stood on a grassy plateau. Six or seven...no, eight figures circling the feeble flicker of a candle. The tops of their heads shimmering in the unearthly starkness of the moonlight.Tess dropped to the ground, grazes smarting, and crabbed gingerly towards a stand of manuka--to burrow amongst the scratchy branches. Shouldn’t be here.The women stomped around the candle, their voices loud and powerful. "She shines for all, She flows through all."She eased the camera from the duffel bag and attached the lens. The 600mm. Perfect for capturing their faces, even at night. She’d used the lens before, many times. But never like this. Never to—spy.© Mandy Hager 2002