The Rewilding by Donna M Cameron

Reviewed by Rod McLary

The Rewilding is an intriguing and engaging novel – part romance, part thriller and part polemic – with two attractive protagonists who at least initially are at loggerheads with each other.

Jagger [named by his mother after the lead singer of the Rolling Stones] Eckerman and Nia [meaning ‘resolve’ or ‘brilliance’ in Swahili – both very apt for this feisty young woman] Moretti are thrown together when Jagger, on the run from his father and his hit men, hides deep in a rain forest in a cave already occupied by Nia.  The son of a billionaire property developer, Jagger has nothing in common with Nia who is on a mission to save the planet but, as is so often the case, sexual attraction eventually overrides their initial distrust and antipathy.

Nia is quite angry with Jagger when he bursts into her sanctuary bringing with him all his first world issues and trailing hit men.  These at the very least will place her life in danger and – more importantly – threaten the plans she and compatriots have to bring the world to its senses before it is too late.  But Jagger is a man of many parts – thanks to an environmentalist mother and his best friend – and he is able to name unusual plants and recognise bush animals and birds. This knowledge and his innate sympathy for the natural world gradually softens Nia’s initial antagonism to him and a working truce is declared.

However, the hit men are determined to locate Jagger and deal with him, and consequently, the pace of the narrative accelerates as they narrow in on Jagger – and Nia.  It is a classic cat and mouse chase and, in this case, what the ‘mice’ lack in strength and firepower, they more than make up for with courage and determination.  Along the way, Nia expounds on her views that the world is being destroyed by industry and the inactivity of government and is not at all receptive to Jagger’s pointing out that scientific advances may address some of her concerns.  There are moments when the polemic threatens to swamp the narrative but the author soon swings the focus back to our two protagonists and their race to safety.

Towards the conclusion of the narrative, there is a classic showdown between our protagonists and the villains – father and son duo Vincent and Ivan – but not before a rather unpleasant run-in with a group of ‘bikies’ who threaten Nia and her compatriots.  They are chased off by the arrival of Vincent and Ivan with their ‘dead lizard gaze’ [p280].

But the heart of the novel is the love story: while their first contact was antagonistic, Jagger and Nia gradually begin to learn more about each other and their first impressions are challenged and then disposed of.  There is a vulnerability about each of them:  Jagger can still be brought to tears by the memory of his mother; and Nia is struggling with the aftermath of disappointment and emotional pain.  As they share their vulnerabilities, their initial antagonism begins to fade.

The Rewilding is a novel which succeeds on more than one level – it is a beautifully rendered love story but one coupled with an exciting and tense thriller with a nail-biting car chase.  Overall, it is a novel to be savoured – well recommended.

The Rewilding


by Donna M Cameron

Transit Lounge

ISBN 978 1 923023 06 2

$32.99; 320pp

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