Text Publishing, $29.99 pb, 226 pp, 9781925603521
Robbie Arnott’s Flames is an exuberantly creative and confident début. Set in an alternate Tasmania, Flames’s kaleidoscopic narrative crackles with energy and imagination. This is a world of briefly reincarnating women, gin-swigging private detectives, wombat farms, malevolent cormorants, elementals and nature gods, fishermen who form lifelong bonds with seals, and coffee-table books about coffins; a world in which the complex bonds of love and family are further compounded by enhanced abilities, supernatural influences, and unusual genetic legacies. While some characters and developments are inspired by real events and people, this is a story that sparks with invention.