Thursday, January 29, 2015

All the Birds Singing, by Evie Wyld

I read Wyld's first book After the Fire,A Small Still Voice a few years ago and loved the suspense she creates.  Eager to read this, I was not disappointed.

The main character is a woman with a complicated past, but we are not presented with all the details right away.  Wyld doles out details and time periods slowly as the novel progresses.  We start with a woman working a lonely sheep ranch, and go through five distinct periods of her life that made her the isolated woman that she is now.  She's tough, she's vocal, and she has scars both emotionally and physically.

The push and pull of the book that creates the suspense is the way Jake (the protagonist, female) is drawn out.  Aside from her past and her avoidance of social interaction which instinctively tells us there may be a good reason for that, there is also a current problem on her ranch that also is tense.  There's devastation everywhere, and she's riding a wave of emotional locations from childhood memories to current fears.

Wyld populates the book with well-drawn characters, few of whom you'd actually like to meet.  A ghastly lot.  Then there's the surprise of finding a rain-soaked stranger standing in the path of her extremely isolated ranch.  He seems nice.  But given her interaction with the human race in the past, can she trust him?  Can he trust HER?

The suspense leaves you breathless (I know that's a cliche but in this case very much appropriate).  I kept reading faster to get more details about the "why" of what was going on, as well as the "who" that is making mysterious things happen. Dialogue is crisp and realistic, the location gorgeous but frightening.

This is a meditative reading experience, much in the style of Tim Winton's The Riders or Dirt Music.

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