Fiction

Ruth Starke reviews four recent Young Adult novels

Ruth Starke

Summer Skin (Allen & Unwin, $19.99 pb, 347 pp, 978192526-6924) by Kirsty Eagar, a raunchy romance for older readers, is set in the halls of residence of a Queensland university during O-Week. Jess Gordon – nickname Flash – has devised a little game for the freshers, a payback for what her friend Farren endured the previous year when she was secretly ... More

Benjamin Chandler reviews 'The Tale of Shikanoko: Emperor of the eight islands' by Lian Hearn

Benjamin Chandler

With Emperor of the Eight Islands, Lian Hearn delves into the mythic past of the world she crafted so perfectly in the Tales of the Otori series (2002–07). It is a pleasure to read a writer in top form, and Hearn is at her best here, demonstrating her characteristic flair for uncluttered, elegant prose.

The Eight Islands are torn between ... More

Crusader Hillis reviews 'Kings Rising' by C.S. Pacat

Crusader Hillis

Kings Rising is the final in C.S. Pacat's Captive Prince trilogy. Set in an invented world that evokes medieval France and Ancient Greece, it follows Damianos, the Prince of Akielos, and Laurent, Prince of Vere. When Damianos's half-brother overthrows their father in a palace coup, he imprisons Damianos and sends him to Vere as a pleasure slave for ... More

Sophia Barnes reviews 'The Convict's Daughter' by Keira Lindsey

Sophia Barnes

In the opening pages of Keira Lindsey's fictionalised history, The Convict's Daughter, a young 'currency lass' named Mary Ann Gill makes her precarious way to the third-floor ledge of her family's hotel in central Sydney, readying herself for the descent. 'Clutching hard to the wooden frame, the fifteen-year-old girl hoists herself up, knees first', all too ... More

Dean Biron reviews 'One' by Patrick Holland

Dean Biron

The work of Brisbane-based author Patrick Holland is reputedly influenced by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, whose Tabula Rasa cemented his standing as one of the so-called 'holy minimalists' of late-twentieth century music. Reading Holland's new novel, One – based on the hunt for the Kenniff brothers, bushrangers operating in Western Queensland ci ... More

Chris Flynn reviews 'The Dry' by Jane Harper

Chris Flynn

There is an odd moment halfway through The Dry when Aaron Falk, the Federal Police officer unofficially investigating the apparent murder–suicide of the Hadler family in the dismal country town where he grew up, is sifting through items left behind by Karen Hadler, one of the dead. Falk comes across a library book, 'a battered paperback crime novel'; he d ... More

Dion Kagan reviews 'What Belongs To You' by Garth Greenwell

Dion Kagan

In the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, an expat American teacher goes down into the subterranean bathroom beneath the National Palace of Culture, a known beat. There he encounters Mitko, a young Bulgarian hustler. Through foreign words with plural and ambiguous meanings, they negotiate a sexual transaction that initiates an intense, potentially ruinous relationship. Garth ... More

Joel Deane reviews 'Comfort Zone' by Lindsay Tanner

Joel Deane

I interviewed Lindsay Tanner once, back in 2012. Tanner was sixteen months retired from political life, and I had come seeking insight into the workings of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party and Canberra's byzantine politics. The former member for Melbourne – a unionist and Socialist Left factional player who had risen to become one of the brighter ... More

Josephine Taylor reviews 'Our Tiny, Useless Hearts' by Toni Jordan

Josephine Taylor

It is the morning after a husband's affair has been discovered, and the house is in chaos: the opening to Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1877) is deliberately evoked in Toni Jordan's novel Our Tiny, Useless Hearts. Now, three couples – Caroline and Henry, Lesley and Craig, and Janice and Alec – and the marital interloper, Martha, must redefine love u ... More

Lucas Smith reviews 'Asylum' by John Hughes

Lucas Smith

Two doors, two characters, two colours – black and white – produce a surfeit of grey in John Hughes's short allegorical novel Asylum. Featuring a variety of forms, including manuals for the officials of the regime, personal letters, political tracts, and an inverted retelling of the story of the Garden of Eden in which fully clothed Adam and Eve arrive ... More

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