This is probably the strangest book that I’ve ever read, and also the one that left me with a permanent grin. Not only are the characters larger than life, their antics are so bizarre whilst at the same time performed in such a matter of fact way, but loveable too. You can’t help but have a good chuckle as you navigate Cann River, cringing at the dubious meat pies & wondering what the hotel guests are up to. A clever, satisfying read that oozes Australian humour.
The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is a very unique, very fascinating but ultimately savage and dark read that I very much enjoyed. If you are a fan of Tarrantino movies, you are more than likely going to enjoy this book which starts out a little bit eerie and odd and then turns violent and dark. It was a book unlike any I have read before but I actually really loved it. It’s not something I think I would have as I tend to shy away from gruesome books but as this has a bit of a Tarantino-fakeness to it, it wasn’t as gruesome as I was actually expecting. It’s hard to describe exactly what I mean by this but needless to say that I somehow very much appreciated reading this book and would even go so far as to recommend it. I think it’s also a little bit like Scary Movie, or Final Destination, so if you like those types of films (as opposed to say Saw which I cannot stomach!), then this book is probably the perfect read for you.
One of the things I liked about the book was how it featured four women as protagonists and how they all took things into their own hands. I didn’t exactly (*cough*atall*cough*) agree with how they dealt with things but it was still fascinating to read a book with women like this at the forefront. I was, oddly enough, rooting for them all to make it through to the end of the book too. In an odd twist and turn of events anyhow. If you’re looking for a book with a feminist feel but that is also a bit horrific and dramatic, than this is the book you should pick up.
Lastly, but certainly not least, what made this book entertaining was the setting and the narration. The way the setting was almost used as a different character in itself was genius in my opinion. It made everything feel claustrophobic but also as though everyone was under its clutches and this was further endorsed at the end of the book as well. And the narration was just addictive. The lives of the women were made to seem very ordinary and boring but the truth was they were doing some very un-ordinary and far from boring things which is a true testimony to how well this book was actually written. In all honesty, the best comparison I can come up with is Death Proof, so if you have seen that film and enjoyed it, you should definitely read this book. And vice versa, of course!
Verdict: A very unique book about justice with a strong female class and a darkly humourous centre.
Be prepared for a story were violence is a prevalent theme. This novel is a dark comedy. Set in the middle of no-where Australia where the locals know everyone, there is an increase in strangers as Miriam Forster literally rolls into town and cannot leave until her car is fixed. The story is told through the views of four women who find themselves in town. First is Miriam, then there is Frankie, who is a deer hunter who stays in an abandoned shack in the forest. Pearl is an elderly fisher-woman who is concerned with the family who have appeared in the shack next door. Finally there is Emily who is stuck working in the roadhouse not earning enough money to return home to England.
Each woman has distinct characteristics, although I find their general unkindness to each other a little disappointing. Through the story we are introduced to four men who each display characteristics which leave the reader feeling uneasy. As the story continues there is a Sweeney Todd-esque feeling to the events that transpire.
The writing is very eloquent with the descriptions adding an extra layer of grit to the story. The Legacy of Gran Parks stems from Gloria's story which is explored in the first chapter - it foreshadows what will happen throughout the book. This book definitely isn't for someone who dislikes violence but as someone who enjoys a dark gritty story from time to time I really enjoyed the writing and plot throughout although some of the characters were less than likeable - although this may have been intentional.
This is the first book I have read from Isobel Blackthorn and it won’t be my last. It is such a well written book that I was gripped from the first few pages.The strapline of the book is ‘A Dark Comedy to Tickle Your Spine...’ and it lives up to your expectation.
The book is set in 1983 in Cann River, a very small outback town, just a crossroads really, in Australia's southern wilderness. The book starts in 1951 as Gloria’s drunken, abusive husband return from the pub. Twenty years earlier they had taken over the hotel. The day they moved in the trouble started, he quickly became abusive. Her body, bruised and battered; she cannot take anymore as the cleaver comes down. The book then fast forwards to 1983 with the remainder of the chapters of the book are told from the viewpoint of one or other of the four female characters: Miriam, Frankie, Pearl and Emily.
It’s a warm evening in the autumn of 1983 when Miriam Forster rolls into town and when her alternator dies she is trapped waiting for a spare part to arrive from the city. Frankie the deer hunter, is up in the forested hinterland with her gun. Old Pearl the fisherwoman sits on her front deck down by the lagoon with her whisky and her dog. And Emily, the English backpacker, scrubs out the pie-encrusted kitchen at the roadhouse. But all is not well: a suspicious-looking city-slicker with two small children, squatting in Fred’s shack down by the lake; a beanie-headed gaunt guy convalescing at the lighthouse; and an acne festooned creature in the hotel room next to Miriam, thrashing about in the night. The remote town is haunted less by a ghost and more by a curse, a curse with ominous consequences for its victims. Gran Parks is stirring. Who will survive? Who will get away? Who will stay?
The Legacy of Old Gran Parks has a wonderfully dark, nasty feel to it.
There's a claustrophobia to the setting. Cann River is a barely-there town, clinging on around a crooked crossroads. Miriam is trapped there until her car is repaired. Emily is trapped there until she scrapes together enough money for a bus out of there. Pearl's health stops her from leaving. They all seem to be running away from something too, from the fire that destroyed Miriam's home, from controlling husbands, stepfathers, parents. They've all run away as far as Cann River, and there they are stuck. And all around them are sinister men, whose very presences exude threat. However, these women are far from defenceless. The legacy of Gran Parks is a legacy of fighting back against abuse, and taking responsibility for dealing out your own style of justice.
This book is chilling. The women in it don't mess about, and I was left with the distinct impression that this wasn't the first time some of them had taken the law into their own hands. There are some pretty brutal descriptions of violence too.
One thing I really liked was how well the book dealt with multiple POV characters. There are four main characters, and the point-of-view rotates between all four of them. Each one has a distinctive voice which came across really strongly in the writing. It is particularly interesting to see what they think of each other, for although they are all stuck in the same situation and are generally pulling together, they don't necessarily like each other and a lot of their prejudices come out.
The plot rolled along quickly, building up the tension effectively as each woman felt a different menace around her, and it was all resolved effectively. I would have liked more exploration of the supernatural elements, which felt like they were lingering just out of view, but that did add to the dark tone of the story. It's described as a dark comedy, though there isn't a whole lot of comedy in it. It's possibly closer to being a noir/horror.
This is the first book by Australian author Isobel Blackthorn I have read, but it definitely won’t be my last.
Where do I start the book features around five female characters each of whom are brilliant, albeit terrifying and definitely a law unto themselves. The story takes place in a small outback town and each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one or other of these women. I don't like to give away spoilers, but I will say this is the second time an author has put me off eating meat pies, and Isobels wonderful book will also make think twice about stay in small outback towns. I highly recommended you read the book to find out why.
Isobel Blackthorn is a new writer for me. This is the first book of hers I have read, but it won’t be my last. Her characterisation is brilliant, and now I’ve finished the book, I’m missing them. The book features just a handful of characters, and centres around half a dozen women, most of whom care nothing for the law. It is set in a small outback town - very small, just a crossroads really - and each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one or other of the women. No spoilers, but it’s worth every one of the five stars I’ve given it. Just buy it, it’s brilliant.
This was my first time visiting the mind of Isobel Blackthorn, and it certainly wasn't boring! The dark humour, gritty scenes and unusual characters all combine to make an entertaining read.
Blackthorn wastes no time drawing the reader in with her opening chapter. It is completely unexpected and sets the dark, grizzly tone that permeates through the rest of the novel. She ensures you are paying attention right from the beginning, and she keeps you on your toes until the end. Like the recently successful Jane Harper (author of The Dry and Force of Nature), Blackthorn knows how to convey the sinister nature of the Australian setting, making blistering heat tangible, the seaside seem lethal, and the all-encompassing forests claustrophobic.
Yet, as oppressive as the setting is, it pales in comparison to the shady characters we meet along the way. I felt uneasy until the end; the sinister characters and their grizzly appearances, as well as the suspicious amounts of unlikely accidents, made me second guess the intentions of everyone in this small town. The gruesome descriptions are detailed and macabre, so if you're squeamish, read at your own peril.
I like the fact it is multi-narrative; each telling of events excellently intertwines with the others, meaning you get to see the same moment from several points of view. Each character is well developed, and most excitingly, completely individual. I have often found when reading a story told by several narrators that it is easy to mix them up. This was no problem here; Grandma Pearl's blunt nature contrasts with the prissy bureaucrat Miriam, the young and naive Emily, and the wild Frankie. It is refreshing to have such a variety within one story.
Overall, this is a darkly humorous tale expressed through brilliant prose and intriguing characters!