Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crow Country - Kate Constable

Sadie has moved to the country with her Mum, Ellie. It’s a great move for Ellie, who has strong family connections to the area – and who’s just reconnected with David, an old boyfriend. It’s a bad move for Sadie, who’d much rather have stayed in Melbourne with her friends. However life takes an unexpected turn for Sadie when she has an unusual encounter with a crow on the dried up lake at Invergarry, after running away from an argument with Ellie. Then her world spins when she meets Lachie Mortlock. Living in Boort suddenly takes on new meaning – especially when Crow gives Sadie a secret to keep and a mystery to solve.
Crow Country is a time-slip novel that has Sadie travelling back through the generations of her family to where she witnesses a shocking event. With the help of Walter, David’s nephew, to do some sleuthing, Sadie’s encounters with the crows and her adventures in another century gradually begin to make sense as the puzzle pieces slot together.
This is a book that reaches into the heart of small town relationships blighted by wrong-doing, prejudice and fear. It is a fantasy story wrapped in Indigenous lore, in which Kate Constable exhibits a deft hand at amalgamating myth with the mystery of ordinary life. Her characters are rounded and the story engaging, full of intrigue, expectancy and crisis. Children reading this story will relate both to Sadie’s excruciating need to feel accepted by her peers and to the sting of being strung along by the older Lachie. The awkwardness of the early teens is juxtaposed cleverly against the natural bond of friendship, which is portrayed so dexterously by Constable in the characters of Sadie and Walter.
Crow Country is a book that sweeps you deliciously off your feet into a world where you feel immediately at home; with Kate Constable you know you are in safe hands. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
Allen & Unwin 2011
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 26, Issue 3, July 2011)

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