Reviews

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘Chessie 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 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.’

‘A Place of Stone and Darkness is an engaging story, has brilliant characters, and shares messages about the environment, human kindness and trusting your friends. With similarities to The Hobbit, this novel is perfect for young readers (10+) who enjoy fantasy and steampunk adventures.’

‘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 Ashesis a good holiday novel for those who enjoy historical sagas depicting a vibrant period of change.’

‘The 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.’

‘An effortless read, Rafferty Ferret: Ratbag 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.’

‘In a novel that tries too hard to cater for its audience, Klehfoth’s plotting becomes confused and coincidental, and Charlie’s amateur sleuthing declines into redundancy when Grace and Alistair’s chapters reveal the answers to the mystery before Charlie can discover them. In a story where clichés abound, the ending of All These Beautiful Strangers is dramatic and surprising if only for its implausibility.’

I Was Born for This is a complex but sensitive portrayal of what it means to be a fan and what it means to have them. One of my favourite YA reads of 2018, I suggest you read I Was Born for This in one long gulp – it is extremely addictive and will hold you captive until you do.’

‘With beautifully drawn characters, The Mulberry Tree is infused with heightened tension. A strong, stubborn and compassionate protagonist, Immy takes charge of solving the mulberry mystery – as well as saving injured hedgehogs. As she rides the anxiety and angst that come with change and growing up, her innate empathy for others allows her to not only befriend kids in her class, but also the lonely tree in her garden.’

‘With a pressure that builds not to startle but to illuminate, Rotoroa crescendos to a depth of emotion rather than to a climactic height. It conceals more than it reveals, leaving the reader to unravel the unsaid, but the rewards are huge – the raw emotional power of Rotoroa lingers long after the novel is over.’

‘Like its mythological phantom namesake, Ponti will quickly ensnare readers with its muscular prose and radiant beauty, but its haunting emotional resonance will leave some gasping for air. It is a visceral, lush debut.’

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