Book Review: Attraction, by Ruby Porter

Available at bookshops nationwide.

cv_attractionThe winner of the inaugural Michael Gifkins Prize, Attraction is the debut novel of New Zealand prose writer, poet and artist Ruby Porter. Written as part of her Master of Creative Writing thesis at Auckland University, Attraction was published by Text Publishing in May 2019.

Attraction follows three young women: Ilana, Ashi, and an unnamed narrator. On a road trip between Auckland, Whāngārā and Levin with her almost-girlfriend and her best friend, the narrator is haunted by the memory of her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, New Zealand’s troubled history of colonisation, and the pressure she feels to make art in order to call herself an artist.

Attraction is an exquisite story. Told in flickering images where the past is interspersed with the present, the North Island’s various landscapes unfold in tandem with the unravelling of the narrator’s personal family history. The landscapes are sketched in meticulous detail, such as this description of distant hills: ‘… get close enough and they reveal their lines to you: wrinkles, creases, the staves of music. Cows dot the ridges like a child’s attempt at drawing crotchets, black and squat.’

While the plot itself is relatively straight-forward – three friends on a road-trip around the North Island where jealousies swirl and personal histories untangle – there is a constant intensity that pulsates beneath. This intensity is driven by the many mysteries of the novel, the largest of which is the first-person narrator herself. Her life feels so real, so distinct, that the novel almost reads like an autobiography. Yet the reader is never fully allowed to know her, nor to trust her. Her emotions and responses are always held at a distance. The narrator finds it difficult to connect with and share her own feelings, so the reader is made to feel this same disconnect – she remains stranded in the abstract, with even her name withheld.

The novel begins with an order: ‘Don’t write this down.’ In a te reo class with her tutor and friend Pita, the narrator is reminded that learning is about the kōrero. Despite ‘learning to speak,’ the narrator withholds the truth about her relationships, her family history and even present events. While Attraction is largely about the stories we tell about ourselves, about our family histories and about our nation, it is also about what we choose not to share. The reader is reminded about the infallibility of memories, and about the danger of trusting the person telling the story. ‘Every time you remember something,’ the narrator repeatedly warns, ‘you’re only remembering the last time you thought of it.’

The prose is emotive and artistic. At Whāngārā, the night ‘seems to bend over and the stars just fall. I walk along the beach, cracking sand like a crème brûlée.’ Yet it is raw and honest – sometimes blatantly so. Clutching at a small motel soap feels like ‘clutching at the foetus of a mouse, small and slippery.’ Each line comes as a shock, to either startle or impress.

Attraction highlights how New Zealand’s ‘clean and green’ landscapes are not what they are marketed to be. Auckland ‘hides behind its concrete shapewear,’ the countryside has a ‘real ugliness’ to it, Lake Horowhenua is contaminated by run-off and fertiliser, Foxton has ‘dead expanses of driveways,’ and every town they pass looks ‘worn out, or half finished, expired.’

The novel captures the truth about small New Zealand towns within small interactions between onlookers, family friends and the three main characters. While Ilana and the narrator are assisted in a moment of kiwi kindness when their car breaks down, this kindness is intermingled with terse moments of homophobia and racism. The ugly underbelly of New Zealand society is often exposed.

Attraction is about belonging and not belonging. As a Pākehā with conflicted emotions about living on Aotearoa land amidst a troubled colonial history, the narrator feels significant ‘white guilt.’ As a Pākehā, she feels like ‘someone imaginary, someone who only resembles a person.’ In Whāngārā, her whiteness is no longer invisible, its like ‘wearing another skin, one that isn’t stuck on right. Or it’s wearing nothing at all.’ The narrator is consistently challenged in how she sees herself and how she relates to the land. Alongside revelations about the New Zealand Wars, the narrator begins to feel overwhelmed by the landscape around her, feeling ‘something stronger than memory, something bone-deep. It warms me and pains me.’ Her tenuous connection to the land is often connected to her inability to speak.

Told in short lyrical snapshots, Attraction is impossible to put down. There are so many quotes to savour, it is impossible to choose just a few. In what is a distinctly New Zealand novel of road-trips, a family bach getaway, hidden histories, small towns and kiwi kindness, Attraction is also queer, feminist, and a blatant examination of what it means to be Pākehā. It is a brilliant, beautiful novel.

Review by Rosalie Elliffe

Attraction
by Ruby Porter
Published by Text Publishing
ISBN 9781925773552

Book Review: The Binding, by Bridget Collins

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_bindingThe Binding is a novel which immediately seduces. Like the hardback books of the nineteenth century, it has deckle edging, quality paper and an embossed spine – its bronze, navy blue and glossy gold cover will entice you with its strikingly classic yet magical design.

The first adult novel from acclaimed London-based writer and playwright Bridget Collins, The Binding is a novel about bookbinding – a booklovers’ dream.

After volunteering with the Samaritans and listening to people’s stories, Collins began to wonder what would happen if she could simply take the ‘traumatic or painful’ memories away from a person. The idea collided with the practical bookbinding courses she was on, and so The Binding was born.

Set in rural England in the late nineteenth century, books in the world of The Binding are not revered or commonplace objects. Instead, books are reviled by most, despised by many, hoarded and protected only by a few. By decent people, they are not sold or put on display: instead they are kept in locked vaults. Only those with corrupt motives persist in the illegal trading of books or the collection of vast libraries. When the main character, Emmett Farmer, picks up a book for the first time, his father panics, rips the book away from him, and shouts ‘Don’t ever let me see you with a book again!’

Why are books so dangerous in the world of The Binding? Emmett soon finds out – instead of stories, bookbinders bind memories. Memories of living people, who, once they have had a memory bound, can no longer remember anything to do with it. Much like witches, bookbinders are seen as suspicious, mysterious people – even evil. When someone wants to forget something – be it terrible or beautiful – they can go to a bookbinder and have the memory removed. As long as the book is not destroyed, the memory remains safe. If the book is destroyed, the memory returns to its owner – often with dire consequences.

Emmett Farmer knows his future: he will continue to work his father’s farm and one day take over the land. But when a mysterious letter arrives summoning him to a bookbinding apprenticeship, his life rapidly dissolves into a confusion of strange events, odd happenings and pounding headaches. Emmett learns from his elderly mentor Seredith that bookbinding is not what it first appears. In each beautifully hand-crafted book is a memory, and he is to learn how to bind them.

When the mysterious character Lucian Darney appears and throws everything into disarray, Emmett makes an astonishing and terrifying discovery: one of the books in Seredith’s workshop has his name on it.

The Binding is a lush read. Told in three parts: the first and second by Emmett and the third by Lucian, this is a sweeping tale that will hold you entirely in its grip. It is effortlessly readable, with beautiful descriptions (‘Quietness spread out around me like a ripple in a pond, deadening the hiss of the wind and the scratch of the flames’) and vivid characterisation.

Beware if you are going into The Binding looking for a fantasy adventure, however. Primarily a novel that is (self-admitted by Collins) ‘shamelessly romantic’, some readers might be unhappy when the novel prioritises the romance above all else. From the second part onwards, the novel keeps the fantasy elements but its focus shifts from fantasy adventure to fully-fledged romance. It is a tale about people who find love with each other despite the odds.

The Binding has very dark content at parts, particularly in part three, and requires some content warnings including rape, abuse and murder.

One of the most interesting part of The Binding, for me, was the moral discussion over whether bookbinding (i.e. memory-binding) is a good or bad thing. Although a person must voluntarily give up their memories, there are societal implications – people with more power want others to forget what they have done, and, inevitably, it is the poor who are the most hurt and targeted. If a poor person needs money or food, they can choose to ‘sell’ a memory to a bookbinder, leaving them incomplete. It is almost impossible to regain their memories – and they can be irrevocably hurt in the process.

Considered evil by most, Emmett’s tutor Seredith considers bookbinding as a life-saving act, a ‘sacred’ art that ‘eases the pain’ of her clients. She essentially amputates the painful memory and leaves the person able to start life anew. Others have more corrupt intent because they make books for ‘trade’. Seredith is horrified by this idea: ‘You become each person you bind, Emmett … Just for a little while, you take them on. How can you do that if you want to sell them at a profit?’

With bookbinding, romance, fantasy, wit and humour, Collins has created a magical tale that booklovers will adore. The lyrical language and engaging characters ensure The Binding is an immersive read. Be careful though – perhaps your lost memories are hiding in a book somewhere, too …

Reviewed by Rosalie Elliffe

The Binding
by Bridget Collins
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9780008272111

Book Review: Flight of the Fantail, by Steph Matuku

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Flight-of-the-Fantail.pngOn the way to a school camp, a bus full of Kōtuku High students crashes in remote New Zealand bush. Devin, Eva and Rocky are three of a handful of students to survive. As they try to find food, shelter and safety, it quickly becomes clear that their broken phones are the least of their problems – something terrifying is haunting this temperamental valley. With a supernatural force taking over their minds and refusing to let go, the problem for Devin, Eva and Rocky is not whether they can survive the bush: it is whether they can survive their own worst nightmares.

A novel which begins with a fast-pace crash scene and ends with a blood-curdling finale, the plot of Flight of the Fantail hurtles along at a break-neck speed. The first YA novel from award-winning Taranaki writer Steph Matuku, Flight of the Fantail will appeal to those who enjoy horror, thriller and a science fiction adventure with an Aotearoa twist.

Flight of the Fantail
may have a pretty name, but it is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Teenagers physically and mentally fight against supernatural forces, while also fighting against themselves (with plenty of gore and grisly death involved). There are moments of levity amid the darkness – such as the accidental playing of the Simpsons theme tune on a glitchy cellphone during a burial – but the overall tone is grim.

Matuku’s strength is in her characterisation. As well as introducing a diverse range of well-developed characters, she does a fantastic job of slowly revealing each character’s inner motives, the nightmares that haunt their waking dreams, and the deep secrets they would much rather keep hidden if they were given the choice. In a complex plot with multiple main characters, this is an impressive achievement.

With symbolic pīwakawaka, kōtare, eels and patupaiarehe, Flight of the Fantail is a distinctly New Zealand novel infused with te reo and Māori mythology. It is also unabashedly contemporary, with teenage jargon juxtaposed against conversations about ancient myths. Eva finds moa bones in a cave and her description highlights this juxtaposition: ‘Rocky referred to it irreverently as Big Bird, but Eva was in awe of it. Those massive birds had always seemed more like myth than fact to her, and here one was, just lying there. It was like finding the remains of a dragon.’

The chapters switch between the main teenagers and the adults who are searching for them, and the motif of the foreboding fantail flits and darts to connect the scenes. As Rocky later explains, pīwakawaka are known to be messengers of death: ‘If a fantail flies into your house … it means that you or someone you know is going to die.’ Like the pīwakawaka’s presence and the kōtare preying on the fish in the river, Flight of the Fantail is full of unresolved tension which keeps the reader in a constant state of suspense.

However, while the teenage characters are convincing, the adult characters fall slightly flat. The company who own the land where the students went missing – Seddon Corporation – keep not only the families but also Search and Rescue ‘out of the Zone’ during the ‘rescue mission’. Although it later becomes clear why this is the case, it is difficult to believe the families and rescuers would be so easily duped. The reasoning for the electrical disturbances – the minerals tokatanium and terrascious – are also too obviously made-up for the reader to suspend disbelief.

Despite these minor issues, Flight of the Fantail is effortlessly readable. There are beautiful descriptions, such as: ‘He scrambled forward into the cluster of nīkau. Nothing but muted browns and emerald green and flashes of sunlight through the filigree of tree ferns, no sound but his own harsh panting and the drumbeat inside him. The smell of wet earth was cloying, ancient, suffocating.’ With short chapters and a fast pace, this is an addictive novel and a great read for those who enjoy a gritty, gory adventure story. Even better, it is set in the wild unpredictable nature of our own country.

Reviewed by Rosalie Elliffe

Flight of the Fantail
by Steph Matuku
Published by Huia Publishers
ISBN 9781775503521

Book Review: From the Ashes, by Deborah Challinor

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_from_the_ashesThe newest historical saga from renowned New Zealand author Deborah Challinor, From the Ashes tells a tale set in the 1950s – and of three families caught in a simultaneously exhilarating and frustrating decade of change.

From the Ashes is a standalone novel, but it is also a sequel-of-sorts to Challinor’s 2006 novel Fire, which depicted the Dunbar and Jones disaster (based on the 1947 Ballantynes’ Department Store fire in Christchurch – a disaster which killed 41 people).

Reappearing in From the Ashes, Allie and Sonny Manaia are now living in the metropolis of Auckland. Only two years on from the Dunbar and Jones fire, Allie is working on the Elizabeth Arden counter at the fashionable Smith and Caughey’s Department Store. As she tries to navigate a workplace that constantly reminds her of her friends who perished, Allie is left to struggle with her vivid nightmares and day-long ‘battle exhaustion’ (what we would now consider to be post-traumatic stress disorder) without help. As well as suffering their own personal tragedy in the recent loss of their baby daughter, Allie and Sonny are forced to face daily societal criticism for their mixed-race marriage.

One of the characters expressing disapproval is Kathleen Lawson, a woman with the wealth to shop at Smith and Caughey’s. A regular customer of Allie’s, it becomes clear that Kathleen is desperately lonely and bored. Trapped in an unhappy marriage with equally unhappy children – no matter how much she tries to present her ideal of a ‘perfect family’ – Kathleen is also trapped within her old-fashioned societal ideals and obsession with class, which are both quickly becoming redundant.

Spanning multiple generations and a myriad of characters, From the Ashes is an ambitious novel. It glimpses into the life of Allie’s elderly nan Rose, her hard-working mother Colleen Roberts, and her two younger sisters, Donna, who is training as a nurse, and Pauline, who is feeling lost as she tries to figure out what she wants from life. Sonny also has a younger sister – vibrant Polly who is leading a life on the lucrative underside of Auckland’s social scene.

From the Ashes tells of an age of social intolerance – especially in the city of Auckland, where signs stating ‘No Dogs, No Māoris’ were common.

From the Hawkes’ Bay, Kura Apanui and her friend Wiki Irwin know first-hand the trouble of discrimination. Living in squalid rental houses, not only do the families have trouble finding work that will accept them, but their large families are forced into cramped conditions – so different to the wide spaces and pleasant houses of the country. Kura’s cousin Ana has also been forced to moved from Hawkes’ Bay, and has challenges of her own – not only does she have to look after her own children, but she also has to look after her father-in-law, Jack, who suffers from a debilitating form of dementia. Focussing on the personal cost that caring can take, Challinor’s novel also explores the inhumane conditions of some 1950s hospitals.

In a decade that was especially difficult for women, From the Ashes is told solely through their eyes. Highlighting the importance of family and friendship, the novel also explores the serious discriminations of the time; the stigma attached to working women and unmarried mothers; the prejudices that led to people falling through the cracks created by society; and the burgeoning age of consumerism. With Smith and Caughey’s Department Store at the heart of the novel, there is a clear gap between those characters choosing to buy refrigerators and telephones, and those characters who can barely afford to buy food.

An easy read, From the Ashes is impeccable in its historical detail. Never over-explaining, historian and celebrated author Deborah Challinor creates a believable replica of 1950s Auckland and the people who may have inhabited it. While there are possibly too many characters – as some appear and then seemingly are lost to the story – the compelling readability makes up for the novel’s seemingly disparate nature. A long read, From the Ashes is a good holiday novel for those who enjoy historical sagas depicting a vibrant period of change.

Reviewed by Rosalie Elliffe

From the Ashes
by Deborah Challinor
HarperCollins NZ
ISBN 9781460754122

Book Review: We Can Make a Life, by Chessie Henry

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_we_can_make_a_lifeChessie Henry’s We Can Make a Life is a powerful, affecting memoir. Spanning a family history of adventure, love, bravery and loss, Henry writes tenderly about her family’s journey through multiple traumatic experiences – including the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes – and their unbending courage in the face of them.

We Can Make a Life leaves a lingering imprint. It demands to be felt; emotionally impactful, it invites the reader to empathise with and reflect on the shared experience of trauma. A freelance writer based in Wellington, author Chessie Henry is a Master of Creative Writing graduate of the IIML. A book ‘that’s been swimming around my head for the last couple of years’, We Can Make a Life is her debut work.

The book opens with an email from Christopher Henry, Chessie’s father, describing his burnout following years of non-stop work as a rural GP. Written one week before he received a Bravery Medal for his role in the Christchurch 2011 earthquake, the placing of this desperate email is deliberate. Not only a call for help from Chris, the letter is a warning against the overwork of our New Zealand medical (particularly rural) personnel.

Jumping back to the ‘beginning’, Henry details her parent’s childhoods and schooling in England; Chris and Esther’s escapades as young adults; their serendipitous meeting through Esther’s brother Andrew – Chris’s best friend – and their adventurous (and, on occasion, terrifying) one-year honeymoon trekking across Africa. Henry describes her parent’s early life and marriage with a gentle warmth which dips but never delves into sentimentality. We get the sense that Chris and Esther are wanderers: people content to embrace every possible opportunity no matter where it may lead. When Esther was seven months pregnant with Chessie, the couple emigrated to Sumner, Christchurch.

Four younger brothers – Finn, Matt, Rufus, and Rocky – soon followed, and Henry depicts the fun (and challenges) of growing up within such a large family. When Chessie was nine, the family (with five children under ten) moved to Tokelau, where Chris worked as GP to the tiny island community. Facing multiple stressful – and dangerous – trials, the year in Tokelau was the first massive upheaval in the Henrys’ lives.

Following moves back to Sumner, then Kaikōura, and then the beautiful rural area of Clarence where Esther worked to create the perfect family home, the reader is completely emotionally invested in every member of this close-knit, warm and hilarious family. This makes the chapters on the 2011 Christchurch earthquake even more hard-hitting. The unedited interviews with Chris and Esther are both poignant and harrowing, depicting first-person accounts of the devastation the February 22 Christchurch earthquake, and the 14 November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, caused. Chris’s honest account of the rescue mission at the collapsed CTV building is particularly difficult to read, but so important.

Henry’s personal story is the glue that connects the disparate chapters together. The memoir is partly a story of Henry writing the memoir; of conversations and interviews with family members and friends – be they in the car, over dinner, at the bar, or in a leaky Wellington flat. The memoir recalls important talismans in Henry’s life that hold significant personal importance – such as a broken seagull ornament – that are catalysts and anchors for unravelling memories. We Can Make a Life is the story of Henry working as a curator of her family history: sifting through the pieces that make the cut, choosing those which do not – and being open about this process and its difficulties. The result is a neatly ordered memoir: each chapter tells a segment of the family story.

A starkly current book, it opens the floor for multiple discussions. It highlights the issues facing the New Zealand medical scene: not only the inadequate funding of rural centres and personnel, but also the problems facing overworked staff in an understaffed system. The memoir highlights the present mental health crisis, particularly the insidious ‘black dog’ that haunts not only the Henry family, but people across New Zealand.

We Can Make a Life is a timely, evocative, empathetic and finely crafted memoir. Written in beautifully detailed prose (‘Even the hills seemed colourless, wet rocks that had slid out of the ocean like tired swimmers, their spines curling back towards the sea’), this memoir will provoke multiple conversations. My recommendation: go read it, and then send it on – mine is winging its way towards my parents as I write.

Reviewed by Rosalie Elliffe

We Can Make a Life
by Chessie Henry
Victoria University Press
ISBN 9781776561940

Book Review: The Mapmakers’ Race, by Eirlys Hunter

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_mapmakers_RaceThe Santander siblings – Sal, Joe, Francie and little Humphrey – have twenty-eight days to reach the finish line of the Great Mapmakers’ Race. With their father missing and their mother stranded, they have no choice but to carry on alone. Their task: find a route for a railway line between Grand Prospect and New Coalhaven. If they win, they will receive a large prize that will allow them to fund a search party for their father. If they lose, they will never be a proper family again.

Launching the adventure with a thrilling train ride, the four children and their talking parrot, Carrot, speed past ‘tunnels and bridges, fields, farms and forests’ to arrive at Grand Prospect. With fourteen-year-old Sal guiding her younger siblings through the bustling town, they join the Mapmakers’ Race with the help of their new-found friend, a fifteen-year-old boy named Beckett.

Against the ever-ticking clock, the Santander team contend with dangerous river crossings, bears, a kidnapping, illness, loneliness, wet clothes, dark caves, family squabbles, cliff falls and terrible weather – not to mention a dwindling food supply. Racing against five teams of adults who refuse to play by the rules, the Santanders find out what it means to survive against all odds.

A fast-paced adventure story, The Mapmakers’ Race is propelled along by an urgent deadline. With regular reminders of how many days remain, each chapter pushes the tension to new heights as the children fight to survive. A gripping tale with beautifully drawn characters, children and adults alike will empathise with at least one of the four Santanders. There’s Sal, the mathematician of the family, the one using trigonometry and her trusty altimeter to ensure their route is safe for a railway. There’s the eleven-year-old twins: courageous Joe and silent Francie. Joe speaks for the both of them, but it is Francie who has the secret talent – she has a special power of ‘flight’ that enables her to look at the world from above, her beautiful maps reflecting her visions. Joe is the brave (and reckless) route finder, and four-year-old Humphrey provides the comic relief with his made-up words (‘Busticated’ he exclaims at one point) and strange observations.

An adventure story with dashes of fantasy and a taste of steampunk, The Mapmakers’ Race is Eirlys Hunter’s seventh book for children. A London-born writer who now lives in Wellington, Hunter teaches children’s writing at the IIML at Victoria University. Complementing the beautiful prose are the stunning illustrations of Kirsten Slade, a Liverpool-born illustrator and comic artist who also lives in Wellington. Each chapter begins with a map illustration detailing the Santanders’ journey.

Unlike most modern-day children’s adventure stories, which tend to focus on internal conflict or traumatic events, Hunter’s novel harks back to children’s adventure books of the past. No adults feature in this story: instead, the children are solely responsible for their own survival. They make the decisions, and they alone suffer the consequences – but also the victories.

A heartwarming tale about the bonds between siblings and friends, The Mapmakers’ Race is a compelling read. When the reader is able to pull themselves away from the plot, they will also realise the delicate beauty of the prose – ‘The full moon hung so big and bright that he could barely make out any stars until he turned his back to the moon and looked towards the dark horizon where there were tens, then hundreds, then thousands of stars pulsing silently – chips of ice in an infinite, frozen world.’

A story full of laughter, thrills, storytelling and danger, The Mapmakers’ Race is destined to become a Kiwi classic.

Reviewed by Rosalie Elliffe

The Mapmakers’ Race
by Eirlys Hunter
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776572038

Book Review: Rafferty Ferret: Ratbag, by Sherryl Jordan

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_rafferty_ferret_ratbag.jpg‘Rafferty was starving. He was also homeless, motherless, fatherless, penniless, and (if he wasn’t very careful) on his way to being lifeless as well.’

So begins Rafferty Ferret: Ratbag, a rollicking tale of a courageous orphan boy. Homeless and hungry, Rafferty Ferret is desperately looking for a way to earn a living.

Set in medieval times, Rafferty has been living rough ever since his forced removal from the monastery he called home. The story begins with Rafferty in a pickle: he is stuck in a hazardous Leper Hole. Soon rescued by a kind baker and his (rather unkind) wife, Rafferty stumbles upon the unlikely occupation of bakery ‘rat catcher’. Before long, his rat-catching fame spreads throughout the village of Spickernell and his skills are in demand. Often meeting unsavoury characters involved in the business, Rafferty is pleasantly surprised to make friends with a young boy named Wyll. The rat-catching pair use their crafty natures to save themselves from the perils of homelessness.

Rafferty is a strong, clever and cunning protagonist who looks out for everyone (and every rat) around him. With few adults willing to help him, his adventures are brought about by his own determination to survive. Hearts will ache for Wyll, who, falling seriously ill, has only one hope – that Rafferty will be able to find him help in time.

Renowned award-winning New Zealand author and illustrator Sherryl Jordan has published extensively since the 1990s. Now published by independent children’s publisher OneTree House, her latest novel Rafferty Ferret: Ratbag will appeal to all children who love historical adventure – or simply a good story.

An effortless read, this book will quickly charm readers. A well-researched story which draws the reader into a medieval world of danger, illness, hunger and corruption, Jordan brings the setting and characters to life with vivid and lively prose.

Her beautiful writing reflects her artistic talent: ‘Thunder rolled and lightning sizzled across the moor making trees stand out stark and black in the lurid glare, and lighting the distant house with its streaming thatch and stone walls. When there was no lightning the darkness was complete, and there was only the fury of the wind and the tumultuous lashing of the rain.’

The seamlessly introduced historical language and delicate illustrations heighten the powerful emotional atmosphere of this adventure story.

Reviewed by Rosalie Elliffe

Rafferty Ferret: Ratbag
by Sherryl Jordan
Published by OneTree House Ltd
ISBN 9780995106437