Monday, September 10, 2012

REVIEW: The Ghost's Child, Sonya Hartnett

There was a lovely Australian YA novel retrospective on Kill Your Darlings a few weeks back, and one of their highlights that caught my eye was Sonya Hartnett's The Ghost's Child. I've only read one Hartnett novel (more on which anon) but I knew I'd be in good hands. She's a beautiful writer.

The Ghost's Child is set somewhere back at the turn of the last century, in a big house on the coast, just outside a big city. Maddy is a girl who seems to adore all things beautiful; especially natural, vibrant things like sea eagles and ocean waves. She meets a young, enigmatic, almost wraith-like man on the beach one day, and she falls desperately in love with him. But she learns just how heartbreaking it can be when your love puts the object of your affection in a cage.

The story is told by an old woman to a young boy, looking back over a rich life; a life which, while at times happy and always full, was not without great heartache. It's real lump-in-your-throat stuff. Short, sweet and painfully beautiful.

The other Sonya Hartnett novel I've read is Sleeping Dogs. You really couldn't find two novels more different in theme and mood, though you could argue that some of the parental relations had similar overtones. Sleeping Dogs is a raw, snapping-jaw of a novel, brutal as it is brief. I have to say I enjoyed Sleeping Dogs more, only because my tastes run towards violent and dark things, rather than weepy cups-of-tea stories. It probably does The Ghost's Child a disservice to put it quite like that. It's a vivid story, and intensely beautiful. Read it if you would like a good cry. (But read Sleeping Dogs if you'd rather something dark and shocking.)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like I'll have to read the Ghost's child - but probably not Sleeping Dogs!