Brisbane writer Chris Bongers has the knack of keeping it down to earth, even when it’s something as horrifying as waking to find a home invader in your room.
In Intruder (Random House), Bongers uses the terrifying incident to unveil and transform the secluded life of 14-year-old Kat.
Kat lives at home with her piano-playing, bakery-working father, with both of them haunted by the death of her mother.
The shadow of the child welfare department hangs over them after an earlier incident, and next door lurks the ‘witch’, the best friend of her mother who has given Kat reason to distrust her.
The intruder is a catalyst for Kat to examine her family and her beliefs and to take charge of a life lived on autopilot. Along the way, she finds new allies: a good-looking lad at the dog park, and her new defender, an ugly but endearing mutt called Hercules.
Bongers does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life with all their foibles; her descriptions of Herc and his interaction with Kat are priceless.
There’s a lot of charm in this yarn, mixing humour and tension in a believable scenario that unearths home truths and serves up a warning about the dangers of jumping to conclusions. It also contains a message of the power of family and trust to overcome even the most dire of situations.
Kat and dog might not be superheroes, but they make a winning pair.
The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Peacemaker, by Marianne de Pierres
This is the fourth of my reviews in the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014. signed on for four, but it’s only June, so let’s push on and see what else I come across …
Something old, something new, something cool …
Neuromancer, by William Gibson, blew my socks off when I first read it. It came out in 1984, helped forge the cyberpunk movement and threw a few words into our technical lexicon. It still rocks. A sweet moment: reading this masterpiece of cyber intrigue and corporate shenanigans with Billy Idol’s Cyberpunk album drowning out the worst of the commuting interference. I love Gibson’s style, his flawed characters, his requirement that the reader keep up, his depictions of cyberspace and razorgirls, the plot twists and stinging conclusion — all of it, really.
Today I rolled another yarn, putting that commute to good use: a brand new story from Chris Bongers, a Brisbane writer who’s in the zone with her first book getting attention from the Children’s Book Council, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Henry Hoey Hobson does too. Chris sent it down as a nod, one I was proud to receive — it seems my penchant for using a coffin as an ice box at our Halloween parties has made an impression! In the Twilight age, it might be easy to think the Fright Night-style cover indicates yet another slipstreaming YA love-in-the-dark affair, but thankfully, it ain’t so. Chris grew up in the central west of Queensland and that dry, larrikin humour is tickling under the surface of this book, an affecting tale of a young fellah and his mum trying to cut it in the big smoke. It’s a yarn about family and fitting in and acceptance, the voice is spot-on, and the Addams Family elements made my day. The details of the Brisbane launch are here.
Which leads me to the other big news: Lucy Sussex (who has her own book launch coming up soon as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival — details TBC) is to launch Kirstyn McDermott’s Madigan Mine at the Carlton Library on August 2 at 7pm. The book is now officially out. Do come along if you can and help make a night of it. More details here.
Playing catch up after a six-day outage thanks to a spanner in the works at Optusnet HQ … but here’s something fresh, and exciting, and inspiring. Check out the bumper crop of Queenslanders scoring some publicity for having their debut novels published in 2009. Not all the stories are necessarily my preferred cup of coffee, but worth drinking to 🙂
Krissy Kneen, Belinda Jeffrey and Chris Bongers are among the selection, and I’m happy to say they’re folks I’ve had the pleasure of running into, even lifting a glass with, and their stories sound well worth the price of admittance.
You can read more about them and their compatriots here.