I was early for an appointment, and needed something to read. This book felt good in my hand, and I thought I would learn something about early explora...moreI was early for an appointment, and needed something to read. This book felt good in my hand, and I thought I would learn something about early exploration of Australia. For that intent, I was disappointed. The book frustrated me for a long time. It seemed poorly organised with dates, places, and names thrown about in paragraphs with no real order or thought. It wasn't organised by date, explorer, location, or anything else I could predict. There was no information about who the explorers were, why they were out there or who they were connected to. There's a chapter that just lists the supplies that different parties took with them. I had no context of why I should be interested. I wasn't learning anything in this messy stream of consciousness! But, this is not a history book. When I finally realised that, that it didn't matter that I had no idea who these people were, I started to enjoy it. If you have a good knowledge of some of the key players in Australian pioneering, you'll probably warm to this much quicker than I did. I respect the great depth of research that must have gone in to producing this piece, and it really is comprehensive in a most obscure way. I still didn't learn anything, I can't tell you dates or locations. But I still had a laugh or two along the way.(less)
While the quality of this work as a piece of prose cannot go unnoticed, I am truly in awe of Siemon's seemingly boundless dedication to resurrecting t...moreWhile the quality of this work as a piece of prose cannot go unnoticed, I am truly in awe of Siemon's seemingly boundless dedication to resurrecting the family history of the Mayne family. By piecing together fragments of information from the 1800s, she has managed to separate the filaments of rumour and truth, and offers a very credible acceptance of past crimes and torment, while making a strong case for compassionate redemption. The book is littered with interesting historical information about Brisbane. Knowing the area well, I found that it presented a great depth of character for a capital city which some consider to be still in its infancy. Siemon obviously respects Brisbane, and understands its rapid development in that time. The final stages of the book are a little brusque, and Siemon's writing takes on an almost pleading style as she accounts for James Mayne's efforts to ameliorate his father's legacy. You are left cold, with an empty pity for Patrick Mayne's children.
The information that Siemon started with was undoubtedly just patchy rumour. But her research to find "the truth" encompasses not just the Mayne family, but the whole of new Brisbane town. It is incredibly well researched and must have consumed her life while she was creating it. She has reconstructed history through scraps of information, ordered them, and retold it together in one coherent (and indeed well written) form. She must be an incredible woman. I have a great respect for the construction of this work, and believe that Siemon has offered fair justice for the Mayne family.(less)
Trent's novel was my first foray into urban fantasy. Perhaps I shouldn't have chosen a novel set so close to home, as I found the local references jar...moreTrent's novel was my first foray into urban fantasy. Perhaps I shouldn't have chosen a novel set so close to home, as I found the local references jarring at times. Perhaps the novel is directed at the YA audience rather than myself, and if that is the case then many of my irks would disappear. I've upped my rating to 3 stars based purely on my hesitations regarding genre and age group.
At first I struggled to separate my opinions of the writing with my opinion of the genre as a whole. Recognising that it was a new genre for me, I thought that some of the awkwardness injected into the detail of the world may not have affected me if I didn't intimately know each street, park, and building. But I worked beyond that, and still found some of the writing awkward and obvious. As far as stories go, this one was well constructed. There was generally a good speed and plot. However, I found the constant reference to Steven's dead companion being (in fact) 'dead' to be quite tedious. Each chapter rakes through the idea that she is dead, cannot me touched, can only be seen by him, can't pick up a glass, could disappear at any moment .. the list goes on. It's not that these references are naturally laced into the story, which would be fine, but Steven often says to himself, "Oh, that's right, she's dead", and then reminisces about what could be if she weren't dead. A good editor would have assured Trent that this wasn't necessary. To be completely brutal, I also would have chosen an alternative to the word 'pomp'; but that's neither here nor there.
All of that aside, I did enjoy it. It was very easy to read, and took me a few days reading on the commute to work. The pace was generally well managed, and the chapters were well constructed.
If you're looking for something that doesn't require much thinking and is easy to follow, definitely pick it up. I found myself wanting to read on quickly to see what would happen next, but still rolling my eyes when Steven would wax lyrical about his dead companion. Kudos to Trent on a great construction, but I'd recommend are more free-handed editor. (less)
I read this book over and over again when I was a child. Amazingly, I still have it and it's in pretty good condition. My mother read it before me, her...moreI read this book over and over again when I was a child. Amazingly, I still have it and it's in pretty good condition. My mother read it before me, her name is faded on the inside cover. I think I found it on a raid in the garage one day. Quite moving for a book about horses. I don't recall the storyline, but I do remember the imagery and the emotions it brought. It didn't make it to the charity pile this time, and I think it'll be read again before I consider letting it go once more. (less)