Beth Teller is dead. But she still exists in our world, following her grieving dad as he heads back to work as a detective following her tragic death. He is assigned to investigate a house fire, however there is more involved than just arson. As Beth helps her dad solve the case, we meet Isobel Catching, a young woman with a story that is equal parts enchanting as it is terrifying.
Split into two perspectives, Beth’s and Catching’s, we begin to uncover the true atrocities that have occurred within Catching’s family, and the house that went up in flames. Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina have done an amazing job combining a psychological thriller with an intense, fantastical story – but the true message that underlies the imagery is Australia’s history of the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the past. It is still as painfully relevant today as it was during our darkest days.
The writing duo has seamlessly integrated Dreamtime elements into the story, and I love the use of the Crow and other animalistic beings as a metaphor for some of the plot points and characters. Catching and Beth had two very distinct voices, however I did like Beth’s perspective more than Catching’s. This purely came down to writing style, as I felt the line breaks and short sentences interrupted my reading flow. It did help with the fast-paced, intense nature of Catching’s storyline, but it was just a personal preference that I liked Beth’s sections more. It almost read like poetry, which I’m sure some readers will really enjoy!
This book is When A Monster Calls meets AS King, combining elements of magical realism and intense emotion to address real, important issues that still affect some Australians today. A must-read for young adults and older readers alike.
I’m looking forward to picking up more from these two authors!