Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Wyld (After the Fire, a Still Small Voice) has masterfully created a novel with an unusual structure that nevertheless feels natural, a dark, eerie undertone that delivers gripping suspense, and subject matter that can get grim and even hard to read yet never makes the story feel depressing. The heroine is Jake, who in the present-day arc of the novel has removed herself to a remote British island, where she tends to a flock of sheep in self-imposed isolation save for the company of a dog named Dog. The novel also has a past arc, that moves backward, building toward a climactic conclusion. From her youth in Australia, Jake carries emotional and physical pain, as evidenced by the scars that cover her back, and that hurt lurks like an evil presence, a force that stalks her even in her remote island refuge. VERDICT The intermingling of past and present story lines takes some acclimation, but trust Wyld, she will quickly draw you in; a true pleasure to read. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]-Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In the searing second novel from Wyld (After the Fire, a Still Small Voice), the past takes real and imagined forms, all terrifying, in its protagonist's life. Jake Whyte, a young Englishwoman, is a sheep farmer on a desolate scrap of island very like the Isle of Wight, where the author, who was named one of the best young British novelists of 2013 by Granta, spent much of her childhood. In the present, something, or someone, is gruesomely killing Jake's sheep. Her traumatic past includes a stint as a prostitute and a relationship with the creepy Otto, who ostensibly "rescues" Jake from the streets, only to turn her into a sex slave of sorts. Jake's current fears include a man in a suit who shows up on her property, and a shadowy beast that she heard going berserk in her cottage one night. Wyld's writing is as muscular as Jake, who, when spooked, drops to the floor to do push-ups. But Jake is troubled as well as strong, running from the many tragedies in her past, including one experience that left a nasty scar on her back. It is a testament to Wyld's vivid storytelling that readers will feel determined to drag themselves through her tale's more unsavory moments to its final revelation. Agent: Laetitia Rutherford, Watson, Little Ltd. (U.K.) (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jake Whyte, the female protagonist in Wyld's riveting second novel (following After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, 2009), lives alone on a bleak island off the British coast. A sheep farmer, Jake finds that her primary companion is her dog, named simply Dog. Trouble arises when someone, or something, begins killing Jake's sheep one by one. At first, Jake suspects local teenagers or a wild animal, but it quickly becomes clear that the entity, real or imagined, is far more mysterious. Jake's vivid tale unfolds in a double narrative. As events in her life on the island move forward chronologically, episodes from her prior life are revealed in reverse, incrementally uncovering the menacing details of her past. These include the time she spent working as a shearer at a sheep station in western Australia, a harrowing turn as a prostitute, and the traumatic events that lie at the root of Jake's perpetual transience and isolation. Jake is both haunted by the past and struggling with the present, and the intensity of Wyld's sharp novel grows as the two threaten to collide.--Strauss, Leah Copyright 2014 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
The second novel from award-winning Australian author Wyld (After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, 2009) explores the checkered past of a self-reliant young woman, a sheep farmer. When we first meet Jake Whyte, she's tending her flock on an island off the coast of England. This is no Little Bo Peep: Jake is a tall, muscular Australian who can shear a fleece with the best of them. She's also a loner; after three years on the island, she has no friends. To understand her, we must delve into her Australian past, which Wyld alternates with her English present. In a further twist, Wyld uses reverse chronology for the Australian sections. In the Outback, Jake is the only female member of a team of shearers, contract workers moving between sheep farms. Wyld is at her best capturing their work rhythms and cheerful profanity. Jake has hooked up with Greg, a good guy, but is being blackmailed by another shearer who's found out Jake is on the run. That takes us back to her time with Otto, a sheep farmer who kept her as a sex slave. Did he also cause those wicked scars on her back? Jake had met Otto when she was a hooker and he had seemed the better proposition, but it was the wrong call. At last we reach the catastrophe that gave Jake those scars and forced the 15-year-old to leave home. The tricky narrative strategy has given Jake a past but not developed a full character. Jake has little interior, and that's true too of her English incarnation. Instead of insights, we get more mysteries. What strange beast lurking in the woods is savaging her sheep? And who is the disoriented trespasser she shelters? Wyld has ordained a permanently dark life for her protagonist, a stubborn fate that offsets the surprises and the reader's enjoyment.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.