Published by Random House Australia on July 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
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Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods?
Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It's just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.
It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake's unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.
Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of how one woman's present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.
Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award
This is a mystery, but not that fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller type. All the birds, singing is more a gradual revelation, but leaves you just as hungry for answers as the classic ‘who-dunnits”.
I don’t really believe in re-writing the entire synopsis of a novel for a review, but I will give a quick run-through for context. Jake Whyte lives an isolated life on a sheep farm on an unnamed British Island. Recently, something or someone has been mutilating and killing her sheep. There are two mysteries for the reader to solve. Firstly: what kind of animal or person could harm her flock in such a horrid way? Secondly: What drove Jake from her home and family in Australia and why does she choose to live in such seclusion?
These unanswered questions kept me hooked. The answers are slowly revealed in alternating chapters. One: in the present in England, then the next concerns her past in Australia. The way her past is exposed seems to confuse some people (according to Goodreads reviews) but it didn’t take me very long to figure out that (and I don’t think this is a spoiler – but if you are sensitive to this kind of thing skip the rest of the paragraph) her story is told in reverse. I really enjoyed this literary device because once you received an answer to one question the next raised its intriguing head. Great stuff!
Evie Wyld is a very gifted writer (clearly illustrated by the awards and nominations she has received for her work). She is probably a little too good in this novel actually: her descriptions on life in Australia makes it sound awful – a dry, dead country teeming with flies and dodgy men. (I live here tourists, believe me, it is not).
There are a few dark seedy bits, a touch of lust and some undesirable characters – all makes for a rather enjoyable read.
– I’ll sing its praises