MARK BRANDI – Wimmera
“Then, with his eyes still closed, he reached into his pocket for the rabbit’s foot and gripped it tightly in his hand, pushing it deeper, safer, inside his coat.”
It’s the late 80s, and Ben and Fab are 10 year-old best friends who spend their free days in the country town of Wimmera catching yabbies, running away from the school bully Porky, and playing cricket and two-square.
But then the girl down the road hangs herself, and soon a mysterious stranger moves into the house where she used to live… and starts to take a special interest in Ben.
Two decades later and the past has finally caught up with the present. Will justice prevail on the horrible traumas experienced so many years ago, or will life itself dish out its own brand of karma?
This novel was a fast read for me, for two main reasons: both because the content was hard to read at times, and I had to quickly move past it… but then I wanted to know more, so I was reading desperately fast hoping all would end up okay.
The novel is broken up into 3 parts, and I can easily break down how I was feeling in each of them. Part 1 is the brewing, hold your breath, oh God no part.
Part 2 is the ‘just say it, just say it, just say it’ part that makes you want to keep turning the page.
Part 3 brings it all out in the open, good, and bad.
Gripes: The content is quite difficult and may be impossible for some to get through. If you’re a parent, hell if you’re just a decent human being, you may struggle and be saddened to read many sections. You’ve been warned.
While the ending is really very full circle, I found it both sad and hopeful. I was quite upset about one aspect, and nearly cried whole big tears, but like I said, full circle.
Pros: It’s a gripping story that paints the picture of 80s country life and the secrets that it possesses exceptionally well. It’s a really masterful piece, even if it is about a pretty horrible thing.
Themes of dark family secrets that border on sadism, strong friendships where the need to protect stands above all else, and the small-town, simple-minded folk that flit and float away throughout all of this are the glue that holds this story together. I felt like I was there in town with the characters, with Mark Brandi making it all the more real with his expert grip on weaving the social and cultural references of the time into the tale. It’s a real strength of his.
It’s a deeply troubled story woven into a fascinating tale about the things we need to share with those we love, and explores the reasons why we don’t… I for one am still thinking of this story, a couple of weeks after finishing it, and the characters are still well embedded in my head.
My new rating system? The score out of 10 where I need to know where the characters are.
‘Need to know where the characters are’ rating system: 9/10.
Genre, targeted audience, word count… none of this matters. All that matters is, how much you still want to know about it.
Hit me up if you’ve read this one, I would love to discuss this unique and dark story.