Twentysomething Satchel O'Rye is stuck in a small country town at the end of the world - a "dark, nasty, dingy little pit where nothing's allowed to happen". Flanked by a dormant volcano and a snarling freeway, he's emotionally hemmed in, too, by a delusionally religious father and a long-suffering mother. Yet he's unwilling to break familial ties and follow his friend to the city, or take up an offer of well-paid work on the coast. Then, while gathering wood in the bush one day, he sees what local outcast Chelsea Piper believes is a Thylacine - a.k.a the Tasmanian Tiger, a dog-like marsupial extinct on the Australian mainland for over 3000 years... Like much of Hartnett's strikingly original work, this novel has suburban despair, damaged youngsters, wounded animals and the constant threat of violence. It also has her trademark compassion - you cannot help but feel for Satchel and Chelsea. Though you know much of their pain is self-inflicted, they're struggling to live their lives in the best way they know how. In terms of craft, it's an interesting novel for young adult readers for the way it introduces them to the idea of extended metaphor: the "sidestep wolf" is a symbol of the art of survival in seemingly impossible circumstances, a challenge Satchel must ultimately face. It's also interesting for the way Hartnett uses landscape to create an oppressive atmosphere: many novels "celebrate" the alienating ugliness of the Australian environment - both natural and built - but here, the weird melancholy of this "fantastic land of monstrosities" (as Marcus Clarke once famously tagged it) is more vividly depicted than usual. The relentlessly bleak mood might overwhelm some readers to the point of setting the book aside, but they'll miss a beautiful ending if they give up - quite an apt consequence, given the novel's theme! Recommended.