Robyn Mundy’s seamless prose doesn’t hit a single discordant note throughout this story of coming of age and regret.

When teenage Stephanie West is pulled into her mother’s dream of returning to her childhood home on Maatsuyker Island, it’s a wrench from Steph’s life in Sydney during her final year at high school.

The island and its basic, lighthouse-keeper house holds little charm for Steph until she meets a young fisherman Tom and until the mutton birds swarm in like giants oil slicks. Just as her mother promised, Steph sees ‘the real Maatsuyker’.

Mundy crafts the tale with a gracious hand, with drift dive pacing. The characters have no more control of their growing enchantment, with the island, with each other, with the great heaving ocean and the stormy sky than puppets on a string. Increasingly Steph doesn’t mind. But then everything changes.

There’s a sixteen-year jump and the third act is another beautiful tale as Steph and Tom try to get back to the people they were in 1999. It’s beautiful. The prose is engaging. The setting is so skilfully painted and the gentle way this author crafts troubled but good people is so satisfying. A wonderful, wonderful novel.

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