Review: The Lost Summers of Driftwood by Vanessa McCausland, by Shelley Carter

Title: The Lost Summers of Driftwood Author: Vanessa McCausland Genre: Fiction Publisher: HarperCollins Australia (2020) This book was provided by NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review. From the outside, it seems as though Phoebe has it all. A successful job at luxury champagne company Joet et Halo, a relationship heading for…

Review: What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Title: What the Woods Keep Author: Katya de Becarra Published: 2018 Genre:  YA thriller fantasy Katya de Becerra’s debut YA fantasy novel What the Woods Keep follows the story of Hayden Bellatrix Holland, who is bequeathed her deceased mother’s family estate on her eighteenth birthday. But she can only receive the bequest if she adheres to…

Review: A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop, by Shelley Carter

Title: A Constant Hum Author: Alice Bishop Format: Short stories Genre: Fiction Published: 2019 A Constant Hum is a collection of short stories all relating to the Black Saturday bushfires that tore through the Victorian bush in 2009. Split into three sections, Prevailing, Southerly and Northerly, the book brings the reader increasingly closer to the…

Review: I Am Change by Suzy Zail, by Shelley Carter

Title: I Am Change Author: Suzy Zail Published: 2019 Publisher: Walker Books Australia Genre: Young adult fiction Lillian wants so much more out of life than what is expected of her. Growing up in rural Uganda, her life is destined to follow the same path as her sisters, mother, and so many women before her:…

Review: Highway Bodies by Alison Evans, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Title: Highway Bodies Author: Alison Evans Published: 2019 Genre: YA, horror Publisher: Echo Publishing Highway Bodies (2019) is a debut novel by Alison Evans that follows the stories of three groups of queer teens as they fight for survival in and around Melbourne as the city becomes overrun by zombies. The actual cause of the zombification…

Review: Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard, by Jess Rae

Trigger Warnings: This book contains suicide, abuse, homophobia and alcohol. If any of these topics are a potential hazard to you this might not be a book for you. Favourite quote: “I run down the hotel corridor, each day of the past week flashing before my eyes, a whole row of tombstones in the cemetery…

Review: The Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch, by Shelley Carter

Title: The Orange Grove Author: Kate Murdoch Publisher: Regal House Publishing Genre: historical fiction The Orange Grove follows an extensive cast of characters within an affluent French chateau in the 1700s. When the duc takes a new mistress, Letitia, and brings her to live in the chateau, tensions flare within the household. Fellow mistress Henriette…

Review: Fabulous Lives by Bindy Pritchard

Fabulous Lives (2019) by Bindy Pritchard From Margaret River Press comes the short story anthology Fabulous Lives by debut author Bindy Pritchard. Each pocket of story speaks to the marginalised sorts that exist on the periphery—almost out of sight—if not for the surreal and whimsical characters they are or situations that they find themselves in….

Issue 28: Invitation

Cover art by Frank Candilaro ‘Invitation’ is special because, apart from being our 28th issue, it is being released on the 10th birthday of Underground’s conception in a coffee shop in Perth, way back in 2009. We’re incredibly proud of the work we do at Underground, and we look forward to growing, reaching new audiences,…

Review: Two new Australian children’s titles, by Kate Lomas Glendenning

Editor Kate Lomas Glendenning reviews two recent children’s book releases from Fremantle Press and Magabala Books. Rodney by Kelly Canby Rodney is another children’s masterpiece by Kelly Canby (who wrote and illustrated the recently published book.) The story follows Rodney, a small tortoise, who dreams to know a life among the treetops. Rodney’s journey is…

Review: On The Sunday, She Created God by Gerii Pleitez, by Shelley Carter

Title: On The Sunday, She Created God Author: Gerii Pleitez Publisher: Kara Sevda Press (2019) Genre: Literary Fiction Novella THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS On The Sunday, She Created God is a gritty, unapologetic glimpse into the lives of urban outcasts. It paints a picture of life in the underbelly of the city, fuelled by…

Review: Alt-Ctrl by Rebecca Freeman, by Jemimah Brewster

Title: Alt-Ctrl Author: Rebecca Freeman Publisher: Thea Press Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction Alt-Ctrl is a YA dystopian novella by West Australian freelance writer and editor Rebecca Freeman. It is set in a not-too-distant future Australia in which climate collapse has forced most citizens into domed cities run by the international corporation PlanetRescue. Governments are at…

Review: Not Bad People by Brandy Scott, by Jess Rae

Title: Not Bad People Author: Brandy Scott Publisher: HarperCollins Genre: Thriller/mystery Isn’t it funny that the books we’re drawn to read reflect a little in what’s going on in our own life? This book came to me when I was trying to figure out some of my own friend-related troubles; mind you mine don’t involve…

Review: Half Moon Lake by Kirsten Alexander, by Shelley Carter

Title: Half Moon Lake Author: Kirsten Alexander Publisher: Bantam (Penguin Random House); 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime When Sonny disappears without a trace in the summer of 1913, his family is thrust into the media spotlight and his case stays in the public eye for years. What is different about this case, however, is that the…

Review: If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman, by Shelley Carter

Title: If I Tell You Author: Alicia Tuckerman Publisher: Pantera Press (2018) Genre: YA Contemporary If I Tell You follows the story of small-town teenager Alex Summers as she navigates her final year of high school and a budding relationship with her first love, Phoenix Stone. When Phoenix moves to the farming community of Two…

Review: My Father’s Shadow by Jannali Jones, by Jess Gately

Title: My Father’s Shadow Author: Jannali Jones Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller Favourite Part: Just when you think you’ve figured it out, Jones throws a curve ball at you! The Black&Write! Fellowship has produced some cracking reads so of course I couldn’t wait to dig into Jannali Jones’s debut. The blurb for My Father’s Shadow doesn’t give…

Review: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean, by Shelley Carter

Title: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone Author: Felicity McLean Genre: Fiction Thriller/Mystery Favourite Part: When a young Tikka re-enacts (unsuccessfully) the Lindy Chamberlain saga as her talent show act — it was a great juxtaposition to the seriousness that was happening regarding the Van Apfel sisters during the climax of the story, and also…

Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, by Jess Gately

Title: Four Dead Queens Author: Astrid Scholte Publisher: Allen & Unwin (2019) Genre: YA Fantasy Every so often a book comes along where the pacing is so perfect—the tension rises steadily  and the plot races forward—that you find yourself turning the last pages at two o’clock in the morning wondering how ‘just one more chapter’…

Review: The Wounded Sinner by Gus Henderson, by Shelley Carter

Issue 26’s Review Review by Shelley Carter (this review can also be read in the Underground zine, issue 26: Ashes) The Wounded Sinner is a slow-burning, gritty glimpse at the lives of a group of Western Australians brought together by random circumstance on a hot summer’s day in the bush. It’s an intense character study,…

Review: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale, by Jess Rae

Trigger warning: this review discusses a book that contains themes of abusive relationships, drug-abuse, and sexual assault. WARNING: This is the kind of book that requires a comfy couch, a good hot beverage and maybe some snacks too because once this book gets going you’re not going to want to stop. I saw this book…

Review: Driving Into the Sun by Marcella Polain, by Dylan Dartnell

Title: Driving Into the Sun Author: Marcella Polain Genre: Literary fiction Publisher: Fremantle Press (2019) The novel that took some ten years to write, Marcella Polain is back with her breath-taking work, Driving into the Sun (Fremantle Press, 2019). The story revolves around an eleven-year-old girl named Orla on the precipice of womanhood. She, like most…

Review: Survival by Rachel Watts, by Jess Gately

Issue 25’s Review Survival (2018) by Rachel Watts Review by Jessica Gately (this review can also be read in the Underground zine, issue 25: Roots) This fast-paced novella from Rachel Watts is a quick and easy read for those of you with a bite for dystopian fiction. In the not-too-distant future, Earth has suffered environmental disaster…

Review: Blue in the Red House by Sarah Madden, by Shelley Carter

Title: Blue in the Red House Author: Sarah Madden Genre: Magical Realism & Memoir Favourite Part: When Ms. De Beer and Me-Two meet for the first time Favourite Quote: “She had been poised to triumph, to step out into the world with new resolve and the battle won, but now she was sucked back into…

Review: Flight Risk by Michael McGuire, by Fred Woolhouse

Title: Flight Risk Author: Michael McGuire Genre: spy thriller Favourite Part: Ted finally meets the individuals behind the terror attacks Favourite Quote: “No doubt plenty of people think the work I do is a bit murky, a bit underhand, maybe even lacking in ethics and morality. But there is a certain honesty in my dishonesty”…

Aussie Titles Reviewed in 2018

 2018 was a huge year for reviews with our editors covering a range of genres, themes and authors. Take a trip down memory lane to see all the great Aussie titles we reviewed in 2018!   Defying Doomsday edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, reviewed by Jemimah Halbert Brewster Grace Beside Me by Sue…

Review: Blakwork by Alison Whittaker, by Jess Rae

Title: Blakwork Author: Alison Whittaker Genre: Poetry Look at that: the fantasy editor is reviewing poetry! Pigs really do fly after all. I actually read a lot of poetry, but my preferred written form is prose so it’s rare for me to talk about poetry on this platform, especially when we have quite a fantastic…

Review: ‘Black Cockatoo’ by Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler, by Shelley Timms

Title: Black Cockatoo Authors: Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler Genre: Middle grade fiction Favourite part: The inclusion of words from the Jaru language throughout the book – very educational and it added to the authenticity of the story. Favourite quote: “You have his mark, Mia, between your shoulderblades. The dirrarn is your totem. Your jarriny…

Review: Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman, by Jess Gately

Title: Terra Nullius Author: Claire G. Coleman Genre: Fiction/Science-fiction Favourite part: Esperance reflecting on how the Settler’s colonisation methods set the Natives up for failure. Favourite quote: ‘He knew now though, that when you plant bones, nothing grows from them. Nothing but pain.’ For all the fiction in this book, it is the truths that…

Review: Oriental Vagabonds by Richard Regan, by Fred

Title: Oriental Vagabonds: A Tale of a Far East Tramp Author: Richard Regan Genre: Fiction Favourite part: Captain Rowden finds himself entangled with Chinese warlords. Favourite quote: “Aye, life’s tough enough tramping around these waters. But it’ll get harder, much harder if General Tojo and Herr Hitler get their way.” Oriental Vagabonds chronicles the trials…

Review: Rohypnol by Andrew Hutchinson, by Fred

Title: Rohypnol Author: Andrew Hutchinson Genre: Australian fiction Favourite part: The narrator’s revelation in the finale. Favourite quote: ‘The New Punk is not about moving towards your future. It is about your life right now, impatiently standing still.’ Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Sexual Predators, Rape, Sexual Assault Rohypnol by Andrew Hutchinson is the story of…

Review: ‘Alfred’s War & ‘Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-Up’

Editor Kate Lomas Glendenning reviews two recent children’s book releases from Magabala Books. Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh, illustrated by Samantha Fry Alfred’s War is the stunning debut from Rachel Bin Salleh and Samantha Fry. The story follows Alfred, an Indigenous veteran who served in The Great War (now known as World War One),…

Review: Neverland by Margot McGovern, by Jess Rae

Issue 23’s review Neverland (2018) Margot McGovern  Review by Jess Rae (this review can also be read in the Underground zine, issue 23: Cast) Title: Neverland Author: Margot McGovern Genre: YA Mental health/fantasy Favourite Quote: “Never yield.” Trigger warning: This book review deals with the subject of depression, anxiety and self harm. Please be aware…