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Reviewed by Shelley Sutherland, Primary School Teacher, Canterbury
Opening sentence
Henry Williams, missionary, faced Tohitapu, chief.
Howling in the Wilderness is a gripping historical fiction novel that delves into the captivating story of Henry and Marianne Williams, early missionaries to New Zealand.

Set in 1823, amidst a hostile and dangerous environment, the couple decide to venture into the unknown with their young family. Their unwavering optimism in sharing the Gospel with Māori, aiming to introduce peace.

The novel expertly captures the tension and challenges faced by the Williamses, particularly in their interactions with Māori chief Hongi Hika and other locals.

From the opening chapter, the author skillfully immerses readers in the perilous world of the time. The scene where Henry calmly faces the chief while his wife and children watch in horror from a window is both heart-pounding and poignant.

Throughout the book, the narrative unfolds with great authenticity, providing readers with a fresh perspective on the historical events surrounding the signing of The Treaty of Waitangi. Henry's unexpected role as a translator, hastily translating the treaty from English to Māori, adds a fascinating dimension to the story.

It is a masterfully crafted novel that breathes life into the experiences of significant figures of the era. The author's nearly decade-long dedication to research and writing shines through, resulting in an engaging and thought-provoking read. For anyone interested in New Zealand history, this book is an absolute must-read, offering a richly detailed and captivating exploration of the country's past.
Author & Illustrator: Diana Harris
Publisher: Mary Egan Publishing
ISBN: 9781991179814
Format: Paperback
Publication: April 2023
Ages: 14+
Themes: Aotearoa history, early settlers, Treaty of Waitangi