On the path of darkness

Consuelo Roland

Consuelo Roland’s pacey, literary suspense Wolf Trap is set in Camps Bay.

It is the second novel in a projected trilogy, following on from Lady Limbo, published in 2012.

A thread throughout is that according to the Missing Persons Bureau, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa.

Most children who go missing are between 13 and 17 years old. That made Paola Dante’s throat clench up. Paola is the central character in Wolf Trap, along with adopted daughter, Simone whose friend Roxy has disappeared for the second time, this time into an anonymous statistic.

Consuelo writes that all over the world, girls like Roxy disappear.

Sometimes they escape like in the famous case of Elizabeth Smart, an American child who was rescued from her captor through a combination of perseverance and luck. But it is usually after years of sexual abuse and molestation. This is the central thread running through the book, taking readers into a mind-bogglingly murky, and yet fascinating world.

Consuelo lives in Hout Bay with husband Dieter, son Sebastian, two Great Danes, a Mancun kitten and a parrot. She used to work in a pressurised job in IT and decided to do an MA programme at UCT before becoming a full-time writer.

Wolf Trap was born from a real story Consuelo heard from an air hostess. It is a topical story about a daughter in danger, the sex industry, genetically superior men, rich powerful women, with a chat room and internet thread throughout.

Consuelo did a lot of research about it. All of this became a trigger in Paola and Simone’s lives.

Consuelo says that although Wolf Trap is a standalone book, it is best to read Lady Limbo first as it makes it easier to follow the cast of supporting characters. The story intensifies from where she left off with Lady Limbo with the husband of the main character, Paola, a well-paid career woman who did not want children, disappearing from their Camps Bay apartment.

Then Simone arrives uninvited and Paola feels a connection from her childhood which turns into love and makes her feel vulnerable.

In Wolf Trap, Paola tries to keep Simone, now aged 14, safe under difficult circumstances.

Pre-pubescent and with a traumatic background, there is an incredible sense of overwhelming menace as she tries to get away from the people who are after Simone.

It’s a dark disturbing subject matter that raises more questions than answers around how far is it permissible to go for love. “I think these quandaries are only tackled in privacy. It’s totally irrational who we love as opposed to who we don’t love,” says Consuelo.

Paola has a choice to make. She ends up taking a path into darkness she would normally avoid.

She says the cliché title is archetypical. “Little Red Riding Hood and the bad wolf, the woodsman hunting for food because the hunter is bad, a man hits on a woman at a cocktail party but turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“In Wolf Trap there are extremely dangerous wolves after Paola. It’s almost a fairy tale, but a serious one,” she says.

Book three is not so neatly tied up. Consuelo says chat rooms will play a bigger role in the plot and at present she is playing with numerous ideas for an ending.

Her first book The Good Cemetery Guide was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and for the Olive Schreiner Award and appeared on a list of “30 Great Books Written by South Africans” compiled by the Centre for the Book. This story is based in Kalk Bay and is available on e-book.

Wolf Trap

Consuelo Roland

Jacana Media

Review: Linda Curling

It’s been several years since the publication of Lady Limbo, the first novel in the Limbo Trilogy.

There Consuelo Roland introduced us to some of the darker aspects of the world wide web. A shady world where women wishing to conceive children the natural way,are paired up with and “serviced” by men with certain desirable physical or genetic qualities.

A straightforward enough transaction in this day and age, but one with long-lasting implications, and being the holders of other people’s secrets puts the facilitators of such couplings in a position of immense power.

There is also the sordid underworld where people prey on young girls, viewing them as commodities to be collected or traded, and once purchased the buyer can use these young bodies for their own baser desires.

When we meet Paola Dante in Lady Limbo, her husband has just vanished – for the first time; a few months later, he vanishes again – apparently for good, and Paola is left in limbo: neither wife, widow nor divorcee.

By the end of the novel, Paola’s life has been turned upside down and she has become an adoptive mother to Simone in the process.

Wolf Trap picks up the story where Lady Limbo left off. Any parent can attest to the difficulties of parenting a pre-pubescent daughter, even when the daughter is one’s own blood with a shared and familiar family history.

Paola has been thrust into such a responsibility with very little preparation, and has her work cut out for her trying to navigate the pitfalls of single-parenting a secretive child who is emotionally scarred by a traumatic past.

Moreover, Paola needs to protect Simone not only from the sexual perverts of her past but also from a group of religious zealots with seemingly sinister intentions who have appeared out of the blue. All of these hovering predators seem to be circling ever closer, waiting for the right moment to strike.

The plot is chillingly credible, and as with Lady Limbo, much of the action takes place in Cape Town.

If, like me, you have read numerous books since Lady Limbo it is well worth re-reading it before tackling Wolf Trap.

Then we need to wait for book three to find out how the story really ends; let’s hope Roland doesn’t keep fans waiting in limbo for too long.