“An intense rush of a book … I’ve never felt so much like I was breathing a place.”
ASHLEY HAY, author of The Railwayman’s Wife
A stunning novel of terror, love and survival in the greatest wilderness on earth. A lyrical, heartbreaking epic debut novel.
An isolated property in the middle of Western Australia, just after the Great War. An English heiress has just given birth and unleashed hell. Weakened and grieving, she realises her life is in danger, and flees into the desert with her Aboriginal maid. One of them is running from a murderer; the other is accused of murder.
Soon the women are being hunted across the Kimberley by troopers, trackers and the man who wants to silence them both. How they survive in the searing desert and what happens when they are finally found will take your breath away.
His mother was here for a reason, she was trying to tell him something but he couldn’t make out what it was. There was salt in the air from her being and it was sweet and carried memories of fat ocean fish, tayiwule, the white clean flesh busting from their skins on the coals, and flaps of the stingray cooking in the oil of their innards on a fire on the edge of that great blue place. That sea that was quiet one day and the clouds were in the water and mad with storm the next day, hurling white tops at the sky and the shore, throwing its anger, but that was the way things were and had to be. Always. Maybe she was telling him to come back.
Trevor brought his swag up to the yards and threw it on the ground, away from the noise of the campfire. Jurulu watched him turn back and forth, stare at the stars and cross his arms over his face to sleep.
In the very first light when the sky turns grey before dawn, Jurulu heard the putter of the boss’s Lewis motorbike changing gears as it pushed up the hill. It came down the thin track to the holding yards. The rider held a rifle upright on his lap. Jurulu stood up. Across the yard, Trevor opened his eyes, raised himself on his elbow and peered into the early morning. The dogs jumped to their feet, barking.
William Lidscombe saw Jurulu standing against the horse yards. He laid his bike down and stood for a moment staring hard at the way the black man rested his arm along the top pole of the yard, the way he leant down and reached for his hat and put it on and pushed it back a little. He felt hatred rise at the man’s familiarity with his property, hatred at the man’s nonchalance.
William strode to where the stockmen were sleeping in their swags and butted them with end of the Winchester. They shook themselves, surprised at his sudden appearance. They rose and he spoke with them briefly. William turned and walked towards Jurulu and the others came behind him.