Book Review: Dive into the dangerous world of Zena Shapter’s When Dark Roots Hunt

Hidden behind a wall of poisonous ivy, safe from the giant water-ants hunting anything that moves out on the lake, and the dangerous wyann trees with their spear-like roots, the people of Sala’s village eke out a quiet existence, doing what they can to survive. But Sala knows Itta is dying, and without change, time is running out.

So when a strange comet crosses the night sky, and the surrounding towns and tribes begin to mobilise, Sala knows this is her opportunity. Quick-thinking and inventive, she knows there’s technologies out there that might be able to help her village – and, just maybe, a chance to find out more about what happened to her mother.

Immersive and impossible to put down, When Dark Roots Hunt feels like the start of something very exciting. Author Zena Shapter‘s world is rich and beautifully constructed, filled with danger, tension, and intrigue. Blending fantasy, sci-fi, and a dash of dystopia, Sala, her friend Aten, and her pointer Spyke are launched into an adventure that pushes them to their limits, taking these former big fish in small ponds and throwing them right into the proverbial deep end.

Sala herself is wonderful. Innovative and driven, she thinks outside of the box, and it’s as frustrating for the reader as it is for her when her ideas are dismissed – largely because of her similarities to her mother, who came from outside Itta. But a few encounters later in the novel (no spoilers here!) really see her come into her own, revealing a softness that beautifully rounds this prickly young woman out.

Thought it’s aimed at YA readers, When Dark Roots Hunt will likely scratch the itch of many a fantasy and sci-fi fan, due in no small part to Shapter’s fantastic world-building and description. A fresh new entry in the genre, and one not to be missed.


Zena Shapter’s When Dark Roots Hunt available now from MidnightSun Publishing. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

Jodie Sloan

Living, writing, and reading in Brisbane/Meanjin. Likes spooky books, strong cocktails, and pro-wrestling.