The Patua’ Heresy is a trilogy fantasy tale told in part from the point of view of crows, about an extraordinary yet nearly extinct group of humans who speak their language, known from antiquity as “the Patua'”. Together, humans, crows, ravens, and a multitude of other birds, unite and take a stand against the destruction of an enchanted island.
Book 1 of the trilogy, Corvus Rising opens as Jade Matthews, a gifted painter with a vivid imagination, awakens from a nightmare in which a band of crows has broken into her bedroom through a large window. She fears that the crows are looking for her most treasured possession: a strange medallion given to her by the mother she never knew. The medallion seems ancient, carved from stone or a very hard wood, depicting a human hand and a bird wing clasped in friendship.
Jade’s husband Russ is a biology professor at the local university, as is the Jesuit priest and noted ornithologist, Alfredo Manzi. The priest serendipitously discovers the enchanted Wilder Island, home to an unusual population of blue-eyed crows and ravens. He meets Charlie, patriarch of the great Hozey clan–one of the many old families of crows on the island, known to them as Cadeña-l’jadia–land of misty marshes and green forests.
Manzi learns that he is not a freak, that there are others like him, others who speak Patua’ –the language of the crows. Charlie tells Manzi about his old friend Charlotte, trapped in an insane asylum for years because she does not speak human languages, though she is fluent in Patua’.
But there is more to the island than blue-eyed crows. Manzi discovers a rustic chapel built by the man for whom the island was named; an old hermit, coincidentally a Jesuit brother of the 1800’s named Maxmillian Wilder. The chapel, built from living trees and vines with a roof that resembles an upside-down bird’s nest, completely charms Manzi. He finds the old hermit’s bones in the chapel, and a strange medallion carved from a very hard wood or stone, with the image of an intertwined wing and a human hand.
Coincidentally, with Manzi’s discovery of Wilder Island, his superior, Thomas Majewski, Father Provincial of the North American Society of Jesus in Washington DC, learns that the Order owns the tiny uninhabited Wilder Island, located in the middle of one of America’s biggest rivers.
With the Father Superior’s blessing, Manzi makes the island his home, just in time to stave off the advances of the developer who plans to build a gambling resort on the island. Turned down by the Jesuits to purchase the property, the developer turns to a condemnation lawsuit under US eminent domain laws, recently expanded to allow for public use to include commercial development.
The threat to the island is dire. With the financial backing of the Father Superior, a tree-hugging attorney named Kate designs a land trust-the Friends of Wilder Island, to defend it and deflect the developer’s condemnation suit. Manzi invites his colleague Russ Matthews and his artist wife Jade, and his helper Sam Howard to join the land trust, and they name it Friends of Wilder Island.
Manzi risks exposing his strange ability to speak with crows to other humans–a secret he has kept hidden his entire life-as he rallies the town of Ledford to ally with their beloved crows to stop the destruction of a unique wilderness.
While the humans argue over the merits of wilderness preservation and economic development, Charlie the blue-eyed crow and the Great Corvid Council take matters into their own wings. Fanning out in all directions, the crows and ravens gather a multitude of birds of all feathers to take a stand and defend Cadeña-l’jadia, ancestral homeland to the great Hozey clan, and the beloved Bruthamax, the old Jesuit hermit who came to the island a century ago.
Corvus Rising ends with Charlotte’s escape from Rosencranz Asylum, engineered by Father Alfredo Manzi (known to the crows and ravens as Jayzu), and aided by a large contingency of mischievous crows. The fabulously tattooed Captain takes Charlotte to Wilder Island in his astonishing boat that looks more like a tiny forest island.
On Wilder Island, Charlotte is happily reunited with her old childhood crow friend Charlie, who now has a wife, Rika, son JoEd, and many more sons and daughters–all close allies of Jayzu (Alfredo Manzi).
Alfredo risked criminal charges to rescue Charlotte; if it becomes known she is on the island, she will surely be taken from him and returned to the asylum.
Book 2 opens as the calamity of Alfredo Manzi’s self-inflicted predicament unfolds. Charlotte’s first day on the island begins with breakfast with him in the Treehouse, and culminates with Charlotte’s surprise encounter in the island’s forest with Jade Mathews– the artist who painted her portrait, sight unseen.
© by Mary C Simmons
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