Sunday, 12 August 2012

Books Read: Chris Womersley - Bereft

Source - Received from publisher to review

Quinn Walker returns from the Great War to the New South Wales town of Flint: the birthplace he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of a heinous act.

Aware of the townsmen's vow to hang him, Quinn takes to the surrounding hills.  Here, deciding upon his plan of action, and questioning just what he has returned for, he meets Sadie Fox.
This mysterious girl seems to know, and share, his darkest fear.  And, as their bond greatens, Quinn learns what he must do to lay the ghosts of his past, and Sadie's present, to rest.   

Chris Womersley is not an author that I'd heard of before so when a copy of Bereft arrived out of the blue from his publisher Quercus I was interested to read the book to see whether or not it would be to my taste.

When we first meet Quinn he's found holding his dead sister Sarah in his arms with a bloody knife in his hand, fearing that no-one will believe he didn't kill her he panics and disappears into the hills never to be heard of again.  The story then fast forwards ten years to 1919 when Quinn has returned from the battlefields of the Great War to clear his name once and for all.

He's back hiding out in the hills behind the town but during secret visits to his parents home he discovers that the town has been hit by an influenza epidemic, an epidemic that has taken many lives and finds that his own mother is extremely ill and not expected to live.  Will he be able to see her before it's too late and does she believe he killed Sarah?

Quinn soon realises that he's not alone in the hills, and hopes that it's not the townsfolk who want to see him hang for the crime he was accused of, but he soon discovers that he's being watched by 12-year-old Sadie Fox.  Why is she also hiding out in the hills and what is her story?  

In Quinn we find a likeable character who has been wronged and Sadie a young girl who is lost and vulnerable. At first they are both wary of each other but soon they come to an unlikely arrangement to look out for each other to try and discover the truth they are both looking for.

At times I did find it a little uncomfortable reading of a friendship between an adult male and a young pre-teen girl, even though their relationship was completely innocent, but overall I did enjoy reading this book.  It was quite obvious from early on who the real killer was but that did not stop me from wanting to carry on reading this book.

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