Fiona Duthie reviews 'The Torch' by Peter Twohig

Fiona Duthie reviews 'The Torch' by Peter Twohig

The Torch

by Peter Twohig

Fourth Estate, $29.99 pb, 459 pp, 9780732299019

Peter Twohig’s The Torch recaptures the tone and narrative structure of its prequel, The Cartographer (2012). The earlier novel is superficially an adventure story. With recurrent allusions to Tom Sawyer (1876) and Kim (1901), the plot alternates between schoolboy pranks and perilous situations. However, these adventures are tinged with pathos. Many of the events described by the unnamed protagonist are deliberately implausible. An underprivileged child is attempting to gain control over traumatic experiences including the death of his twin brother, whose name, significantly, was Tom, and the separation of his parents. He re-imagines the world with himself as the centre, the cartographer, seeing and knowing all, performing audacious rescues, and aiding and abetting a network of professional spies.

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Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a librarian at the State Library of Queensland. She holds a doctorate in Australian literature from the University of Queensland. Her articles have been published in Westerly, Antipodes, Australian Library Journal and the Australian Women’s Book Review.

Published in May 2015, no. 371

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