Evie Wyld is an author to watch. At the age of 34, she has two novels under her belt, and a string of awards (including the Miles Franklin) trailing along behind her. Born in England, she also spent part of her childhood on her grandparents’ sugar farm in New South Wales. It is the familiarity of these two vastly different cultures that she draws upon in All the Birds Singing and her first novel, After the fire, a Still Small Voice.
All the Birds Singing tells the intriguing story of Jake Whyte, a woman living alone on a small farm on a remote English island. It’s just her and the dog plus the fifty or so sheep she runs on her rain-drenched property. Something is picking off her sheep in a gruesome manner, though, and it could be any number of things: the group of wayward teenagers who hang around in the woods; the strange man she finds drunk and asleep in her shed; a fox, or something more insidious – a large, dark, nameless beast that lurks in the shadows.
Whyte has a troubled past, too, and as the story alternates between her present life in England and her former life in the scorching climate of Australia, we gradually come to know more about what drove her to England and the demons that continue to keep her awake at night. How did she come to have the hideous scarring on her back and what kept her continually on the run in Australia, moving from one sheep station to the next?
Wild is an intelligent and skilled writer, not revealing anything until the very end. I look forward to reading more from her.