Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2020)
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool—a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime—it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny's dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?

Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy's Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published August 4, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Charlotte McConaghy

23 books3,523 followers
Charlotte McConaghy is the author of the international bestseller MIGRATIONS, a TIME Magazine Best Book of the Year and the Amazon.com Best Fiction Book of the Year for 2020, which is being translated into over twenty languages.
She has both a Graduate Degree in Screenwriting and a Masters Degree in Screen Arts, and lives in Sydney, Australia.
Her new novel, ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, is coming August 2021.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
23,827 (42%)
4 stars
20,923 (37%)
3 stars
8,797 (15%)
2 stars
2,203 (3%)
1 star
654 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,458 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
January 6, 2021
It isn't fair to be the kind of creature who is able to love but unable to stay.

I don't think it can be said that I read this book. I felt it. I felt every single word.

It's hard to review a book that affected me like this one did. I want to convey how much I loved it without resorting to incoherent gushing. I guess I could start with the fact that I've barely felt like reviewing at all this year; found even concentrating on books a challenge at times, never mind putting my thoughts down in a review. I finished this book a little after 1am this morning, heart racing with a complex array of emotions, and knew I had to say something about it.

Migrations is set in a near future where most of earth's wildlife has died out due to the changing climate. Franny Stone sets out to follow the last Arctic terns in the world, as they make their migration - perhaps their last - to Antarctica. The book moves from Franny's present, in which she sails on a boat with a number of funny, weird crew members who become a kind of family to her, to all the love, passion and tragedy of her past, which is slowly unveiled over the course of the novel.

Unlike most other environmental dystopias, this one is not urgent or panicked. In fact, it's a quiet novel. A subtle, sad tale of a woman and her grief. And it's a love story. For a person, and for a planet.

I cannot tell you at exactly what point I fell for this book. I know in the beginning it seemed slow, it was slow, but it was also mysterious in a way I found compelling. There was something about Franny-- something relatable, raw, lonely, and confused --that made it necessary to learn where she had come from and where she would end up.

The atmosphere created by McConaghy's writing left me with a chill that still hasn't gone away. She manages to make this story feel cold, the simplest of events and actions like an icy breeze on the back of your neck.

I noted a more negative take on this book from another reviewer called it "predictable", and, in some ways, it is. Though, rather than predictable, I would say it felt inevitable. Like we were climbing towards something, anticipating something, knowing it couldn't be good, that there were really only so many ways it could have happened, and surely it wouldn't be the warm, cozy one we'd like to believe is true. I saw the climax of the novel coming, yet this did nothing to lessen the impact for me.

Chilling, in both senses.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,129 reviews39.2k followers
April 9, 2022
Bring out your napkins! You may possibly haven’t read something so heart wrenching, extremely emotional, powerful, dark, nostalgic, depressive, tear jerking, sad for a long time and its powerful reality hits like a slap against your cheeks!

After your reading, you gotta need a strong drink, lay down to gather yourself together and breathe in and out several times because you’re truly shaken to your cores. This is so effective, strong and soul crushing, earth shattering kind of journey! You gotta be mentally and physically intact before getting your ticket to his adventure and getting rid of your second thoughts before you go blind and dive into!

This story is told by Franny Stone, who seems like tarnished, damaged soul, keeping dark secrets, a quiet brilliant wanderer who truly has no idea what she is doing with her life and how to treat herself fairly. She is mentally lost and each destination she takes gives her a life purpose for taking a new adventure and procrastinating to face with her own life’s realities.
Her new mission is compelling: she has to go to Greenland to find the world’s lost flock of Artic terns to follow them throughout their final migration which forces her convince to a half-mad captain Saghani to take her to his ship to reach her destination.

She finds herself in a ship of different crew- a group of broken people who lost their way throughout the years, fighting with their own past demons and resentments. It seems like seeing the results of seven deadly sins and instead of John Doe, apocalypse threatens the nearly 80 percent of the population: Now human’s pride and hunger for greed starts paying the price! The fishless oceans and extinction of animals are the new life normal.

Reading this reminded me the last standing orchestra members of Titanic: even though they know they’re going to die and there is no hope left, they keep playing till the end because the power of music is only thing give them a real purpose!
It’s a heart wrenching story about loss, grief, exhaustion and dark journey to the human soul!
Normally I don’t like to read extra dark, suffocating, soul shaking stories but this is absolutely unique, a cold shower for your mind and awakening warning for you to take closer look to your own life story.

I cared about Franny a lot during my read and I liked to read her struggling story and her emotional letters to her husband and conclusion of her adventure. Well-crafted characters, great world building and moving, phenomenal story-telling mesmerized me so I had no choice but to give five blazing stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for sharing this remarkable ARC with me in exchange my honest review. And congratulations to Charlotte Mc Conaghy for creating such a powerful story.

Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
566 reviews4,591 followers
September 4, 2020
I do not understand the praise this book is getting.

It’s compared to Station Eleven because, as you find out naturally as the book progresses, it is set in a world (possibly our own future) in which animal and plant life is all but gone, at least in places inhabited by humans.

Our main character is Franny Lynch (nee Stone). She’s on a mission to get aboard a fishing vessel since it’s the only way she thinks she’ll be able to achieve her last goal in life: follow the last remaining colony of Arctic terns, sleek white birds with black caps, on their final migration. She manages to talk her way onto the Saghani and gets a crash course on how to survive at sea from the boat’s crew.

There are just as many flashbacks as there are scenes in the present. We’re hopping around to various points in Franny’s life which gets very confusing even though we’re given the years in which these scenes happen. It’s confusing because of all the bouncing around and because just about everything you start off believing about Franny turns out to be untrue.

Franny might be the most boring unreliable narrator I’ve ever experienced. We’re told that she wanders and the author beats you about the head with the fact that it’s *in her blood.* It’s just part of her *nature* that she abandons places and therefore people in order to go off and do...what, exactly? Who knows.

Franny sleepwalks and knows that she can become violent and behave recklessly when she does so, but there’s no information about how long she’s had this condition or if it was induced by any kind of stressful or traumatic situation. Nor does she ever seek help for it. She’s clearly not well - she basically starts off the book telling us she’s suicidal, but it’s not until the very end of the book that you start to get a sense of why she might feel that way.

Because this author wanted the shock factor at the end of the book, she wrote a character who’s tortured for the sake of being tortured for the first three quarters. She crammed all the truth - the realities of Franny’s life - at the back end of the book and used an unreliable narrator to excuse that.

Nothing about this book was executed well, but what had me seething was the unforgivably lazy worldbuilding. As an author, you cannot, and I mean CANNOT, just say that this world is now devoid of most animal and plant life without discussing the cataclysmic effect it would have. Nothing on Earth would be the same. You can’t just flippantly say that the world’s forests are gone and not comment on what this means! What’s the world’s human population now? How are crops growing? How far advanced is global warming? How high are sea levels? Does the change in sea levels have an impact on currents and the navigation of this fishing vessel?

To ignore those HUGE issues in favor of trying to make the reader feel an emotional connection with a deluded liar is downright unacceptable to me. I am livid at this publisher for promoting the blatant lie that this book is similar to Station Eleven. Say what you will about the writing in Station Eleven (I liked it, but I know others didn’t), but there was a whole well-thought out world in that book.

This book is proof that publishers and readers go to mush for tortured characters and emotionally manipulative stories regardless of whether they’re actually good. Franny and this book can go ahead and migrate out of my life.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,067 reviews2,663 followers
January 31, 2021
Migrations follows Franny Stone's journey following the last of the Arctic terns. The time is in the not too distant future and almost every bird, fish, and wild animal is extinct. Almost all domestic and farmed raised fish, birds, and other animals are raised for food. Global warming has wiped out the food and habitat for most animals. And Franny is planning to die at the end of this last journey of the Arctic terns. The birds won't be able to make the migration again because there are no fish left for them in the ocean. In fact, these birds may not even make it to their destination this last time, without perishing first. 

Franny is a disturbed individual. Her father left her mom very early in their relationship and her mom has no contact with any of her family. Franny's mother has always had a strong urge to "wander" and Franny was born with that urge, also, A ten year old Franny leaves home for just a few days and when she returns, her mother is gone. Franny spends years looking for her mother and this search haunts her whether she is awake or asleep. Franny has very traumatic dreams, sleepwalks, and hallucinates. And now Franny is wandering one last time, following the Arctic terns. 

As she travels after the birds, on a fishing vessel, with a crew that knows this is their last haul, Franny writes letters to her husband. She's already written many letters and has kept them all. Franny's past is a mystery and her crewmates are suspicious of Franny and her true mission. Franny's sadness and sense of doom is so prevalent that I had no doubt that Franny was looking for her end. I loved the writing of this story even though it filled me with such sadness and a feeling of hopelessness. This story is about a woman's loss, other people's losses, and our losses. 

Publication: August 4th 2020

Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,290 reviews120k followers
March 9, 2022
There is nothing so disturbing as a creature born to flight being bound to dull lifelessness.
A nameless sadness, the fading away of the birds. The fading away of the animals. How lonely it will be here, when it’s just us.
Franny Stone has always had large volumes of wanderlust coursing through her veins. From? To? Both? Neither? It seems that this is an ancestral gift. Excellent for seeing vast swaths of the planet’s landscape. Maybe not so good for establishing a secure base of operations in, say, maybe, a family, living in, oh, a home.

Charlotte McConaghy - image from Fantastic Fiction

About twenty minutes into the future, a breathless Franny turns up at the town of Tasiilaq, in Greenland. The fauna of planet Earth have been vanishing at an alarming rate for a long time already. Mass extinctions are no longer the exception, but the rule. Franny wants to hitch a ride with a fishing boat. Her mission? To track the last Arctic terns on the planet as they make their globe-spanning annual migration from the Arctic to the Antarctic. She is happy to take on seamen’s chores while aboard, although her skill-set is somewhat slim. But what she can offer of value is tracking hardware. Terns with trackers on them and a computer that can check where they are. This is of significance to a particularly hard-core fishing boat captain, Ennis Malone, as terns are excellent locators of large schools of fish, and Malone is desperate for one last ”golden catch” before he, and all other fishermen, are banned from practicing their trade, the oceans having been pretty much drained of sustainable piscine life.

Tasiilaq Greenland - image from Travel with 2 of us

Franny’s time talking her way onto, and then shipping out on, the good ship Saghani, is our home-base present for the novel. From here we flip back to several times in Franny’s life. Two, four, six, ten, twelve, nineteen years, and one year before. Each peels back a part of her life. We learn more of Franny’s many secrets with each look back. McConaghy sustains tension by showing us just enough, getting us to bite, then yanking us into the next chapter, the next time and place.

Franny has several loves as well as secrets. She is a creature of the sea, an amazing swimmer, having an unnatural tolerance for oceanic chill, which she demonstrates by diving into such frigid water on rescue missions, with no apparent attention being paid to her personal safety. You wouldn’t be surprised if she crawled out of the water sporting an Ariel-like flipper instead of legs.
The sea for her is one of the great loves of her life. Maybe it’s the family she never had. She feels more connected to her body, and weightless, and almost able to fly like the birds she loves. - from the -WriterUnboxed interview
She is smitten with birds. We learn that she had had a particularly connected dealing with crows as a child. In another one of the lookbacks she is working at a University, decides to pop into an ornithology class, to bolster her innate interest, and finds, unsurprisingly, that she loves it, that she has an excellent feel for the course material. This does not go unnoticed by the professor, who is soon gaga over her. Niall’s love for the natural world, birds in particular, is as great as Franny’s love for the sea, but he is able to fulfill this passion by study, research, and teaching, without having to give up everything to pursue his interest. His is a stable passion, although no less a passion than hers.
Niall is absolutely symbolic of the birds for Franny. He represents the idea that you can study what you love without taking away from the magic in those things. - from the Dead Darlings interview
Their relationship takes flight, Franny’s third true love, but her wanderlust remains overpowering. It was always there, still is, and e’er will be.
I tried for Niall, like I did for my mother. I really did. But the rhythms of the sea’s tides are the only things we humans have not yet destroyed.
The family piece is important. Her mother encouraged her to read a lot. In addition to expanding her brain, it was a way for Franny to leave, without having to physically take off. And it worked. Her mother was particularly sensitive to leaving, having been abandoned by her mother as a child. Franny knew about this, and her mother’s promise that if Franny ever left it would be the last straw for her. The call comes when Franny is ten, and she does an adventurous runner with a fellow adventurer. But when she comes back two days later, Mom is gone. And Franny is packed off to her grandparents in Australia, her father having been out of the picture for a long time. Adult Franny goes on a search to find out what had happened to her mother, one of several lookback threads.
It was really important to me to write the moments in Franny’s past that make her who she is, and for the reader to be able to experience those moments on an intimate level with her, because I felt that this would allow readers to connect more deeply with her and what drives her through the story. There’s also a lot of tension to be built in using suspension and mystery—you leave clues peppered throughout and only reveal information at moments that will create catharsis for your readers. - from the Amazon interview
Franny sustains a number of secrets. Aboard the boat she suffers from night terrors, even to the point of some life-threatening somnambulism. Why? What’s the deal with all those letters she writes but fails to send? What happened with her mother? Is that even a secret or just a mystery? There are more. And she is not the only one. Some of the Saghani crew have plenty of their own.

Arctic Tern – image from Discover Magazine

The migration theme is worked vigorously. Franny’s innate pull to here or there is certainly of a kind with the migration urges of birds. We get to see the migration of the terns in action. There is even mention of a very long-term migration involving ocean currents. The fishermen must migrate to follow the fish, who also migrate.

One of Franny’s needs is to try to find or construct a family. Niall presents one way in which to have an actual home base. He offers her a lot of space to be who she is. One can also see the Saghani crew as a kind of family. They certainly look after one another in a familial way. She can be herself to a significant degree with them, salve her loneliness as they have theirs. Franny’s searching for her mother is also driven by this familial need. Even if you are going to be in and out, you need a place to hang your hat, or maybe it is not so much defined by the place but by people. Home, then, is wherever you are, when you are with the people you love.

The future McConaghy portrays is grim, but she had not set out to bum everyone out, or parade back and forth wearing a sandwich board, screaming “Repent!” She is not interested in tossing harpoons. One measure of this is how sympathetically she portrays the fishermen, even knowing that their work is part of the problem. It is a very human look at things.
I didn’t want to write a dystopian novel about the physical impacts of climate change, such as what would become of our food supply. I wanted this to be an existential look at the way the loss of the animals would make us feel, and I think this was a refusal of the idea that humans are the most important things on this planet, and that everything exists in service to us. I wanted the world I drew to look almost identical to the world today, apart from that one major difference, hoping that this would be a more confronting way to predict how close a future without animals really is. - from the Amazon interview
Franny Stone is a fascinating and engaging character. Admittedly, most of us will not share her compulsion to just go. But, while it is likely that our traumas do not match hers, we have all suffered trauma of one sort or another. And while few of us have had to endure the chained up, tied down feelings or experiences Franny has, many of us have spent long stretches of time in places and/or situations we would rather not inhabit (I certainly have). And while we may not have the NEED that Franny experiences, we all have things we want, desires that are unfilled, whether in lower case or bolded caps. So, while we may or may not identify with the specifics of her experience, we can certainly identify in one way or another with Franny’s pain, with what remains unquenched, fueling potential movement.

Migrations is a remarkable book that will transport you, but to a place you will want to see. You will meet interesting characters along the way, try to figure out some mysteries, uncover some secrets, and consider that we are not all made alike. There is on offer here a look at love made difficult by what is inherent, but also a look at how that might be managed. Hopefully, you will consider optimism, the possibility that courses through these pages as well as the dark future they portend. Migrations is a journey well worth taking.
A shiver of delight finds me as we set out into the dark water. We hug the coast, traveling north by the ceaseless circling light of the lighthouse. The salty smell of the sea and the sound of its crash, the sway of the waves and the black abyss of its depths, the reaching dark of it, up to where it meets the inky velvet sky pricked through with glitter. With the stars reflected in the water we could be sailing through the sky itself; there is no end to it, no end to the sea or the sky but a gentle joining together.

Review posted – August 14, 2020

Publication dates
----------August 4, 2020 - hardcover
----------July 6, 2021 - trade paperback

I received an e-book ARE of Migrations from Flatiron via NetGalley. No long-distance travel was entailed. I did, however, feel unshakably pulled to write a review.

And thanks too, to MC. You know who you are.

Ok, sometimes I get a dark urge, a compulsion that I cannot resist, try as I might. The result is safely tucked under a spoiler tag to protect the innocent. But if you are driven by investigatory instincts, I urge you to reconsider before going there.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, Twitter and FB pages

This is the author’s first book for adult readers
My review of McConaghy's 2021 follow up, Once There Were Wolves

-----Amazon - An interview with "Migrations" author Charlotte McConaghy by Al Woodworth on 8/6/20
-----Bookpage - Charlotte McConaghy - To the moon and back three times by Cat, Deputy Editor - 8/4/20
-----Bookweb - A Q&A With Charlotte McConaghy, Author of August’s #1 Indie Next List Pick By Emily Behnke – 7/21/20
-----Dead Darlings - Interview with Charlotte McConaghy, Author of Migrations - 8/4/20
-----Libro.fm Audiobooks - Author Interview: Charlotte McConaghy by Kelsey Norris – 8/8/20
-----Writer Unboxed - A Glimmer of Hope from a Dark Future: An Interview with Charlotte McConaghy by Julie Carrick Dalton – 8/6/20

Items of Interest
-----Chasing daylight - tiny trackers reveal the incredible flight plans of the Arctic tern
-----Nemo’s Point
-----Reading Group Guide
-----The Wild Geese - a poem by Mary Oliver – it is referenced in chapter 2 – four years ago in Franny’s life - not really a spoiler, just a piece of the poem

-----Luke Kelly - Raglan Road - Franny gets weepy in Chapter 22 on hearing this song
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
August 30, 2020
“To me they were the presence of something profound, though at six I didn’t know what. Something like loneliness, or it’s opposite. They were time and the world; they were the distances they could fly and the places to which I could never follow.”

Yet, Franny Stone is compelled later in her life to follow the near extinct Arctic tern.

“..I decided to follow a bird over an ocean. Maybe I was hoping it would lead me to where they’d all fled, all those of its kind, all the creatures we thought we’d killed. Maybe I thought I’d discover what cruel thing drove me to leave people and places and everything, always. Or maybe I was just hoping the bird’s final migration would show me a place to belong.”

Set in a time that feels current, not in the distant future, most of the wild life are gone, but not the Artctic tern. I was immediately compelled to follow her on this journey to follow them. The story is stunning every way. It touched my heart with a character that will be hard to forget. It pounded my head with the direness of the affects of climate change, without preaching. The writing - so vivid and clear, poetic at times. I was cold. I was aboard the ship. I was in Ireland by the sea where she lived with her mother for a time as a child. I felt her love for her husband. I felt Franny Stone’s losses and sadness and trauma. This is a first person narrative and while we know her thinking and feelings with each page read, it’s not to the fullest extent at first, but a gradual moving and build up towards understanding Franny’s determination and desperation to complete the journey.

When I say I connected to Franny, it wasn’t because I could personally relate to what she has gone through, but mostly because, she’s such a broken soul, yet has this courage and determination. I admired her. She’s strong, but fragile, and I have to admit I was afraid to get to the ending, but I couldn’t stop reading. It is through chapters moving between various times in her life that we get glimpses of her childhood in Ireland and Australia, her more recent life with a husband she is estranged from, but still loves deeply. We read the letters she writes to him that she never sends. I fell in love with the motley crew of the ship, just as she does. I’ve intentionally said little about the plot, but there are descriptions and other reviews that you can read for that. Yes, this is a book about the affects of climate change, about man’s role in causing the extinction of precious wild life, but it’s about so much more than I expected. It’s about love, about the search for belonging, about how one’s family and how losses shape who we are. I can’t recommend this enough.

I received a copy of this book from Flatiron Books through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,543 reviews24.6k followers
October 5, 2020
Charlotte McConaghy writes a phenomenal, unmissable, and original novel, emotionally charged, tragic, harrowing, haunting, an ode to the wonders of our natural world, set in the near future, an environment devastated and degraded by the impact of climate change, the mass animal kingdom extinctions and the hugely depleted seas and oceans. It charts the flawed and damaged Franny Stone's epic journey following the last migration of the Arctic terns to the Antarctic. Franny was born with wanderlust running through her veins, an ancient inheritance, that takes her to Tasiilaq in Greenland persuading a fishing vessel Captain Ennis Malone to let her travel on the Saghani with him and his broken and vulnerable crew. Malone is a desperate man, embarking on one last fishing mission for a elusive fishing catch before fishing is banned.

Arctic terns are known for their abilities to seek out large fish shoals, and it is for this reason that Franny is allowed to board the boat, to begin the most dangerous and perilous of journeys. The narrative goes back and forth in time in what seems like a chaotic, non-linear manner, slowly revealing Franny's traumatic personal history at various periods of her life, from childhood, being abandoned, to her marriage to ornithologist, Niall Lynch, burdened by the secrets buried deep within her, the sorrows, the tricky nature of love, and her passion for the sea. Additionally, we learn of the backstories of the crew members, with whom Franny forms close bonds after initial problems. In this story of survival, we learn the truth of Fran, an incredibly complex character, unreliable, vulnerable, fragile, plagued by insomnia and nightmares, writing letters she never posts, yet with a strong inner core of determination and courage.

McConaghy’s novel carries a melancholic, unvarnished and raw picture of a future that illustrates the grim horrors to come if the world ignores the warnings to be found in our contemporary realities and fails to act. The last migration of the Arctic terns, is echoed in a Fran and the past she carries within her and within the fractured, damaged and self destructive humanity that inhabits our planet. In this profoundly moving read, McConaghy's prose is lyrical, poetic and intensely atmospheric, and thankfully, concludes on a note of hope and resilience. This is a must read novel that I hope attracts the widest possible readership that it so deserves. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,917 reviews35.3k followers
May 16, 2020
We have never needed a book more than “Migrations”, in 2020.
....during the crescendo of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re taken on a fascinating, ethical & emotional journey—
...sometimes funny—
...sometimes brave—
...mostly heartbreaking—

”There is pleasure in the pathless woods. There is rapture on the lonely shore. There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar”

With clear and unflinching prose, this startling story is a page turning testimony to the power of love.

“Her name was Franny Stone at birth. Her Irish mother gave birth to her in a small Australian town where she’d been left, broke, and alone.
Eventually they moved to Galway, Iceland where she spent the first decade of her life”.

Franny had a dream - foolish fantasy she called it - of securing a place on a fishing vessel - having a captain carry her as far south as possible, to be able to follow the migration of a bird—the longest natural migration of any living creature.

Franny’s first week in Greenland:
“I’ve been out here on my own for six days. My tent was blown into the sea last night, as wind and rain lashed it from around my body. I’ve been pecked on the skull and hands more than a dozen times by birds who have been named the most protective in the sky”.
“I pause on the crest of the hill to look once more, and the wind calms a moment. The eye spreads wide and dazzling, edged by a black-and-white ocean and a distant gray horizon. Great shards of cerulean ice floats languidly by, even now within the heart of summer. And dozens of Arctic terns fill the white of the sky and earth. The last of them, perhaps in the world. If I were capable of staying anyplace, it might be here. But the birds won’t stay, and neither will I”.

Franny walks through Tasiilaq, Greenland. It’s hilly and lovely with colorful houses perched on the uneven terrain.
“The sky is the sky is a sky, and yet here, somehow, it’s more. It’s bigger”.
She sits and watches icebergs floating through the fjord while thinking about ‘the tern’.
The terns nest along the coast but will fly south soon all the way to Antarctica. She was studying the migratory patterns of the Arctic tern, looking specifically at what climate change has done to their flight habits. It’s what was killing the fish.

“Nobody needs to be told of the extension of the animals; for years now we’ve been watching news bulletins about habitat destruction and species after species being declared first endangered and then officially extinct. There are no more monkeys in a wild, no chimps or apes or gorillas, nor indeed any animal that once lived in rainforest. The big cats of the savannas haven’t been seen in years, nor have any of the exotic creatures we once went on Safari to glimpse”.

If there were any fish left in the ocean, the birds would find them.

Franny was on a mission- traveling on a vessel in Greenland with a colorful crew of men and women—( she begged to tag along with the crew on ‘The Saghani’), offering to work for free.
“The crew didn’t really want Franny there. But she loved every second of the backbreaking laborious eighteen hour days. She had never been more exhausted in her life, but it was perfect. It meant she would sleep”.

The mystery of why Franny had sleep challenges ....will unfold slowly as we learn more about abandonment issues from her past, and the other memories than haunt her.

Highly original—messy, tragic, atmospheric and endlessly inventive.....
An utterly engrossing read— by the phenomenally talented Charlotte McConaghy.

A BRILLIANT ACHIEVEMENT...I hope to get a physical copy ... as this was one of the most remarkable and memorable books I’ve read this year.

Huge thanks to Flatiron Books for this advance copy ( I honestly can’t say thank you enough), Netgalley ( thanks for all the work you do to support authors and diehard readers),
soooo much appreciation to author Charlotte McConaghy: you’re incredible. I’ll read anything you write again.

DEEPLY EMOTIONALLY MOVING.....the book you want to scream to everyone you know: “READ IT”!

Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,080 followers
March 6, 2021
Migrations for me was a book that was all over the place and I didn't find the story plausible or entertaining. I didn't find it suspenseful or atmospheric, more a confusing and disjointed read.

I had such high hopes for Migrations that I even ordered my copy in hardback and waited 4 weeks for it to arrive, due to Brexit. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy the reading experience hence my 2 star rating. An ok read but not one I can recommend.
I loved the premise of this book, a future where climate change has seen many wild animals and birds extinct and Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who has itchy feet and struggles to stay in the one place too long. she embarks on a trip to follow the last Arctic terns to Antarctica. Franny has a past which isn't long catching up with her.

I struggled with so many elements of this novel and never felt I understood the how's and whys of the story. Franny is all over the place and her character or actions were just not believable to me. The book dips in and out of climate change, grief, maritime adventure, dysfunctional families and what feels like a superwoman who endures an adventure that wasn't really believable or realistic.
I found the toing and froing of the book relentless and confusing and the ending totally unbelievable after what went before. This wasn't what I expected from the novel, and while I enjoyed the little information I leaned about the Artic Terns, this book will not make it onto my real life bookshelf. So many of my friends have loved this one and this was just my reaction to the story.
The Bird who dares to fall is the bird who learns to fly.
September 14, 2020
This is one of those stories that might not be about what you think it is about. I went in thinking this was about climate change and loss of animals due to that, but it's much more than I expected. The story explores the connection humans have to nature as it explores one of my favourite themes, loneliness, belonging and our need to find a connection. Here we follow Franny's journey as she searching for a connection, a will to live and something to live for. She finds a connection to the sea, and the birds she is following becomes her connection. Through her point of view, she takes us to her troubled past, and I started to see her quest was about more than what it seemed.

While the plot is engaging as we piece together Franny's past, her demons and what makes her wander, she is guarded, and it was hard to connect to her because of that. I found myself connecting more to her pain, sadness, loneliness, her need to wander, and with the connection she finds to the land.

My son sees trees and plants as healing, and he finds inner peace when near them. He needs them as much as he needs air. I find anything to do with water quiets the noise in my head. Animals are healing and why we have a strong connection to them. The story gave me a lot to think about how as humans we connect to nature and not only protecting our environment is essential to animals but human health as well.

I enjoyed the dynamics between the crew with broken souls, who, are lost without a connection to their environment and are searching for that emptiness to be filled. Even though they don't trust Franny, they find comfort with her in that loneliness. I loved the connection they formed through understanding that about each other.

While at times, Franny's journey felt grim, I could also feel some hope in the words written as Charlotte McConaghy paints us a beautiful story about healing. These characters felt like finding friends who understand the need for nature for inner piece and who would be lost without it. I highly recommend it.

World setting: Greenland
Profile Image for jessica.
2,506 reviews30.9k followers
April 27, 2022
meh, this was fine.

definitely a well-written novel but, after reading the authors other book, i found this one to be a little flat by comparison.

i think its because i wanted it to lean more into the sci-fi aspect of the plot. the birds are disappearing, so why dont i see more of that in the story? if anything, its only used as an excuse to drive the character development further, rather than being an actual part of the plot.

which i guess is fine if you prefer books that are more character-driven, which this definitely is. but something about franny just rubbed me the wrong way. nothing specific, i just never really warmed up to her.

but, objectively, i can understand why so many readers enjoyed this. i just happened to like ‘once there were wolves’ better.

3 stars
Profile Image for Debra .
2,198 reviews34.9k followers
May 14, 2020
"My life has been a migration without a destination, and that in itself is senseless."

Fanny Stone is a lost woman wandering around, searching for answers about those in her past while trying to make sense of her life. She has suffered many losses in her life and sets out on a journey to follow Arctic terns to their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, the captain of a shipping vessel to let her join his crew as they follow the terns who they hope will lead them to fish. For this is the crew's last haul. Animals, with the exception of house pets, are extinct, the seas are almost out of fish and Fanny believes this will be the Arctic terns last migration. She sleepwalks and has wanderlust like her mother before her. Franny, like the sea, is erratic and unpredictable.

"I have never feared the sea. I have loved it with every breath of my, every beat of my heart."

This book is told in varying timelines, but the headings let us know when and where the story is taking place. I found this story telling technique worked in this book, as it symbolizes how erratic and unreliable Franny herself is. This book seeps with sadness and gloom. It is not an uplifting book and tells the tale of a sad life. Having said that, it was beautifully written full of beautiful passages.

" Only quiet is a different beast when it finds you. A perfect kind of thing until you have it and it turns on you."

Heartbreaking and Haunting, Migrations is a story of survival, loss, love and facing the truth.

Thank you to Flatioron books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,692 reviews14.1k followers
September 5, 2020
Beautiful and heartbreaking. I wasn't ready for this book to end. Endings though is what we humans seem to excel at, as this book makes clear. The near future and with our disregard for climate change, our inaction, we have ended the lives and caused to be extinct 80% of lives creatures. There are no more elephants, tigers and lions gone, even crows are no more.

The last hope are the Arctic terns, who travel from the Arctic and back again. This may be their final migration and Franny travels to Greenland to follow their last flight. Franny though has private worries, secrets, she is running from just as she is traveling toward. She us fragile, brave and has suffered many losses. As she travels with the shipping vessel, Saghani, we learn her back story as well of those of the crew on the boat. Their are tender moments, sorrowful ones and beautiful descriptions of the Arctic. The ending is perfect, magical and hopeful.

The prose is gorgeous, the story haunting and important. It contains a warning, a message that is of the upmost importance. Can you imagine the world without these creatures that we have long taken for granted? This is where were heading if we don't act now.

ARC from Flatiron books.
Profile Image for Farrah.
221 reviews564 followers
January 11, 2021
' 𝙄 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙨𝙚𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙤𝙩𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙙. 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙙𝙤𝙣'𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙚, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙤𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚, 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙙 𝙨𝙤 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙢���� 𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙛𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙨 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙖𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙮 𝙨𝙠𝙞𝙣. 𝙄𝙛 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙖𝙣'𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙙, 𝙄 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙨𝙝𝙚'𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙣 𝙢𝙮 𝙙𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙝 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙙. 𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙨𝙚𝙩𝙨 𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙙𝙤. '

Set in a future where humankind has made almost all animals extinct.

Franny is a very damaged woman.
Filled with wanderlust, she connects more with nature and the sea than with other people.
This is the story of her desperate need to follow the Arctic Terns from Greenland to Antarctica for what may be their final migration.

The reasons this journey is so important to her and the relationships she builds along the way are beautiful, inspiring, frustrating and heartbreaking.
Amazing book - I loved it all!

"𝘽𝙪𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪'𝙧𝙚 𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙢𝙚 𝙨𝙤 𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙡𝙮" 𝙄 𝙨𝙖𝙮.
"𝘿𝙤𝙚𝙨 𝙞𝙩 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙜𝙚?"
𝙈𝙮 𝙚𝙮𝙚𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙠𝙡𝙚. "𝙉𝙤" 𝙄 𝙨𝙖𝙮, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙄 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙙𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙗𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙞𝙨, 𝙄 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙩'𝙨 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙣𝙖𝙢𝙚, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙞𝙩'𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖 𝙗𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙢𝙖𝙮𝙗𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩'𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙛𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙖𝙡𝙡.
"𝙒𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙜𝙤 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙢𝙚?" 𝙄 𝙖𝙨𝙠 𝙝𝙞𝙢.
𝙉𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙡'𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙢𝙨 𝙩𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙚𝙣. 𝙃𝙚 𝙨𝙖𝙮𝙨, "𝘼𝙮𝙚. 𝘼𝙣𝙮𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚"
June 7, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

I’ve been fortunate to have read many beautifully written books over the years. But I can think of none more stunning than Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations.

For this reason, I’ve put off writing my review. Partly out of fear – I’ve been afraid I’d be unable to adequately convey the depth of my connection to this novel. And partly out of sorrow, because I know that once my review is written I will begin to let Migrations go. The memory of it will fade, regardless of how tightly I cling to it.

The novel tells the story of Franny Stone, an Irish woman living in a future world where all the wild animals are gone. There are no bears, no wolves, no lions – they’ve died off. And she has made it her mission to follow the last Arctic terns as they make their final migration from Greenland to Antarctica.

Migrations is haunting. Intoxicating. Chilling. I didn’t just read it – I experienced it. Surrounded by McConaghy’s hypnotic and atmospheric writing, I heard the melodic churning of the Irish Sea and tasted its saltiness. My skin burned from the icy Arctic air. And the exquisite sparseness of the prose rendered me breathless, the sharp words deeply cutting to my core.

As did Franny’s story. For it is not a happy one. Born with an itch to wander, Franny has never been able to stay in one place. She always leaves those she loves, wounding them, no matter her longing to remain. And sadly, she has been left, too, and knows loss and tragedy intimately. Hers is a heartbreaking life.

Migrations is a love song to our natural world. It’s a boundless, passionate romance between a woman and a man. And it’s a hopeful tale of a broken soul in desperate need of redemption.

Read it. Experience it.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for Debbie.
433 reviews2,743 followers
February 22, 2021
Pogo-stick party time!

Wow wow wow! When I turned the last page of this gem, I felt so full I didn’t know what to do with myself. Ding! Grab your pogo stick, dummy—and I did. I bounced for a good hour, all twitchy and manic, with dramatic sighs. Then I became a pushy bitch and instructed my friends to drop everything. Read this book, I screamed. I didn’t want to start another book because I didn’t want to break the spell of this one. There is nothing, I swear, nothing, that beats that feeling you have when you finish a book that has had its way with you (and where you loved every second of it).

That’s some kind of magic we’re talking, some kind of magic. I could make a list of all the cool things about this book—plot, characters, atmosphere, all outstanding. Oh, and there’s a wonderful love story also. Yada yada yada, yes, all the boxes are ticked. But it’s the magical way the author puts everything together that makes this book a masterpiece. The writing is luscious, no sentence is extra, emotion brims over. The story is straightforward yet profound. It’s also haunting and thought-provoking. I can’t stop with the glow-y adjectives apparently! Oh, and the book is never preachy, even though it’s a story that is set in a future time when humans have destroyed all wildlife (except for a few birds and fish).

The main character is fascinating and complex; she’s incredibly strong yet incredibly vulnerable. She’s the opposite of one-dimensional, she’s the opposite of boring. She has had traumas and spends her life trying to cope with them. I loved being right beside her on her trek to follow the Arctic Terns as they set about migrating thousands of miles.

One of the things I absolutely loved was that there was plenty of action and adventure. A lot of the story takes place on a fishing boat in tumultuous, freezing seas; edge-of-the-seat excitement, I tell you. Seldom do you get so much action in literary fiction (sometimes in lit fic there are just too many pages and too much philosophy that interrupt the plot).

Here, the adventure is all exotic, and that ups my interest. Patchett’s State of Wonder and King’s Euphoria come to mind—those books took me to godforsaken places, too, and I loved getting plopped down into them. And for atmosphere, the book reminded me of The Chronology of Water (which shares a water theme) and The Enchanted. This beaut is going to be sitting right there next to all those books on my favorites shelf.

To add icing to the cake, this book sent me down three wonderful memory lanes: 1, the icy sea (and looking out at it) reminded me of my days as a secret passenger on an icebreaker ferry off Cape Cod (it was all moonlike and eerie, with big crunching ice noises—yes, that was probably the biggest adventure of my life!). 2, the talk of tagging birds in Scotland reminded me of when I was at a wildlife refuge in Scotland a couple of years ago, where they were tracking tagged osprey who were flying thousands of miles south; we watched them sitting in their nest, live! (Wouldn’t it be cool if the book was talking about the very refuge I visited?) 3, the crow talk reminded me of sitting at an outdoor cafe in my hometown Seattle, watching crows mate and squawk, and hearing my daughter tell true crow stories.

What if what this book says comes true? What if we kill off every animal species? I can’t imagine a world without animals, I just can’t! Right this second I’m thinking that I must start reading more animal books! The book even made me add a shelf called Animals! Which meant, of course, that I was up until 5 a.m. wracking my brain to add as many animal books as I can remember. (p.s., I’d love animal book recommendations if you know of any that have my name on them.) I’m getting carried away, because right this second I also want to eat animal crackers! And pet my cat, of course.

These days all my adventures are vicarious, sitting still and getting punched and tickled by stories where there are brave people doing dangerous things, and words that magically transport me.

I found a great interview with McConaghy, where she talks about the birth of this book:


One of her comments floored me: “I discovered that in the last 50 years alone, humans have killed over 60% of all wild animal life on the earth.” She is passionate about wildlife and what humans are doing to its populations. So not only is she a master storyteller, she’s also a good egg.

If you read the article, be aware that she mentions her new book coming out this year. The title she gives in the article has changed. It’s now called Once There Were Wolves; it comes out in September 2021!! (For those of you who do Edelweiss, it was available as a Read Now a couple of days ago.) I can’t WAIT to read it!

Oh, and I was happy to learn that this story may become a movie or series!

This book, oh this book. My interest never once waned, and it affected me profoundly. It’s in my soul. Listen to this bossy bitch and go read it already!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
September 11, 2020
Charlotte McConaghy's Migrations is haunting, poignant, and thought-provoking. Wow.

This was definitely what I'd call a "Bookstagram made me do it" book. I hadn’t heard of it until two friends spoke highly of it, and it sounded like a book I’d like. And boy, did I ever.

In a not-too-distant future, nearly all of the world’s wildlife—animals, birds, and fish—are extinct. Franny has tracked the last existing flock of arctic terns to Greenland, and she is determined to follow their last majestic migration.

But to do so, she must convince a ship to follow the birds’ path, and let her join them. She connects with the Saghani, a fishing vessel in search of nearly elusive fish. She convinces them that the birds will go where the fish are and the captain, Ennis, decides to trust her.

It’s a treacherous and harrowing journey. As Franny gets more acclimated with her shipmates it becomes clear that Franny is hiding something. Suffering from night terrors, sleepwalking into dangerous situations, one must wonder whether Franny is not only running toward the birds, but running from something.

This was a beautiful book. It has a similar feel to books like Good Morning, Midnight , Station Eleven , or The Dog Stars , although not quite as dystopian. It’s also a commentary on the risks we face as a world given the way our environment is being abused.

Migrations is one that will stick with me. Franny is one of those beautifully flawed characters you truly feel for.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books999 followers
June 3, 2020

I had a very different reaction to this novel than my Goodreads’ friends. I wanted to put this novel down many times. I didn’t love the writing, and I didn’t care at all about Franny or her difficult past—she came through as so flat and unemotional to me. Yes, she has nightmares and terrible insomnia, but I simply didn’t care. I found this depressing and excruciating.

NetGalley sent an advanced copy of this book, which releases August 4, 2020.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
474 reviews1,304 followers
December 5, 2020
A marvellous debut. Often sad and lonely but still filled with hope for the future.

I feel honoured to have taken this journey with Franny, so passionate about wildlife. She is tracking the near extinct Tern, as it makes its last migration from the Arctic to Antarctica.
It is this journey on which the past leads to the present. On a fishing boat in the North Atlantic we learn of her life and the need to flee; and then return, just as the birds do.

My heart is pulsing. Such beauty in the vastness of the environment and within her. How we need to be concerned about climate change and how it is destroying our beautiful wildlife. I loved this character; this story. An awakening. I was looking up maps as I journeyed with her. And these birds -spectacular.
5 brilliant stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Lori.
353 reviews422 followers
September 6, 2021
(Written 9/1/21, revised 9/3)

This novel was a failure for me in every way, yet so many friends and others whose reviews I respect loved it. A lot. And it was nominated for best book of last year. It's set in a world affected by climate change, with an allegedly unreliable narrator, a quest and mysteries: all of those appeal to me. But I can't find any redeeming qualities in Migrations; rarely has a book provoked escalating annoyance, at times anger, in me.

The setting, some unspecified time in the future, was utterly unscientific.

Novelists owe the reader no truth and no realism but if you're going to write a book set in an unspecified future that's drastically altered by climate change, some semblance of accuracy should be built in. It's expected in science-based novels that the author will have done research so I can only conclude the known facts and possible scenarios got in her way, because she picked and chose conditions on earth to suit her story only. McConaghy's world is completely implausible in every aspect and that she dodged when in the future it takes place seems like a deliberate, easy out.

Eighty percent of all wild animal life has died. They say most of the rest will go in the next decade or two. We’ll keep farmed creatures. Those will survive because we must keep our bellies full of their flesh. And domesticated pets will be fine because they let us forget about the rest

...for years now we’ve been watching news bulletins about habitat destruction and species after species being declared first endangered and then officially extinct. There are no more monkeys in the wild, no chimps or apes or gorillas, nor indeed any animal that once lived in rain forests. The big cats of the savannas haven’t been seen in years, nor have any of the exotic creatures we once went on safari to glimpse. There are no bears in the once-frozen north, or reptiles in the too-hot south, and the last known wolf in the world died in captivity last winter. There is hardly anything wild left, and this is a fate we are, all of us, intimately aware of.

It’s a news bulletin. A lone gray wolf has been discovered and captured in Alaska, amazing scientists who believed them extinct. Authorities were alerted to its existence after it killed a flock of livestock south of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

Which brings us to our final reminder that if you or anyone you know wishes to visit the remaining forests of the world, you need to join the waiting lists immediately, for it is becoming more likely that the lists will outgrow the life spans of the forests.

Here are some of the problems I have with that -- and in this new version I've edited out even more:

⭐ Franny Stone, the protagonist and alleged unreliable narrator of Migrations, was born in a home by the sea in Ireland with a low stone wall. The home and wall are intact, the sea swimmable.

⭐ Oceans are sailed and they're written in exactly the same condition as they are now. The water levels are navigable on five or six continents, temperature amenable to humans from the equator to Antarctica -- not too hot, not too cold, not too high, not too low and without a single storm. No fires either.
Hurricane Ida's remarkable swath of damage in the Gulf Coast and then unprecedented, almost unbelievable damage in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania plus the fires in California and floods in other countries have led me back here. A world without weather, a book about climate change with no weather -- how convenient for the author and ludicrous for her book.

⭐ Incredibly, The Gates of the Arctic is still there and sustaining livestock.

⭐ There are waiting lists for forests (maintained by who or what?) yet with the imminent extinction of trees the atmosphere is unchanged and so is the temperature: no one is fried, no one is freezing and the air is breathable.

⭐ People still eat fish, the livestock, whatever else we're not told and they have water to drink. It is totally unbelievable that the food chain has not been so disrupted that creatures can eat at all. In one facility in Scotland pollinators are being kept, which begs the question whether and how plant and insect life is sustained, since they're not everywhere.

⭐ The author simply sidesteps what is growing on land and in the ocean beyond the disappearing forests, few fish and birds, and domestic livestock. The horses on Grandma's farm in New South Wales are doing fine, Grandma's doing fine, others are too and New South Wales is doing fine. It's absurd.

⭐ And there have been no pandemics -- not one let alone waves of them -- or widespread food shortages that wiped out numbers of humans. What caused those lists of animals to go extinct isn't addressed. There are no sick or hungry in the book. What an easy and disingenuous choice to have made.

I'd originally written the ludicrousness of the setting took me out of the novel but it's more accurate to say I never found my way in past the beginning. I don't require realism, that isn't even possible, but some semblance of plausibility -- especially since every other aspect of the book was implausible to me as well.

Franny Stone, lover of terns, loved by crows, convicted of a very serious crime, protagonist of Migrations, is a character who didn't work for me on any level.

I don't consider her an unreliable narrator, I consider the author's choice of how to tell and structure her story unreliable. I didn't like her let alone feel for her, which is not a requirement (hi, Humbert). I saw through her biggest of multiple secrets early on. That made me start out sympathetic but she spent my sympathy early and often and evoked no empathy either.

I believe most readers prefer a protagonist with flaws and a villain with good qualities, as I do outside of satire, but Franny Stone's personality, actions and morality are too mixed. McConaghy gives us glimpses of her heart and at times seems to justify her hurt but, and I'm well aware I'm an outlier, for me her story is melodramatic, too extreme and too inconsistent.

As written she seems to have issues with mental illness and at one point mentions medicine that doesn't work leading me back to hmm, in this world maybe medical science has made no advancements either. It's possible she's of sound mind and often seems to have given up on life but that can't be because McConaghy has her make some definitely life-affirming choices. She's tiresomely cynical and that too undercuts her very few decent actions and decisions.

She so loves these birds but about everything else is selfish and even cruel. The sum total equals incoherence, it's much too much to imbue in a protagonist let alone one we're meant to care about. She had many readers sobbing, ones I respect. She left me cold, colder than Migration's seas off Antarctica where, incredibly, glaciers are left, still calving.

And I didn't like being handed bits of Franny paid out in this story like climbing rope, especially since the story jumps around in time and place more than most. Excessively. When I read novels I like to work a little or a lot but it wasn't possible here. It doesn't help to try and figure her out because throughout Migrations, McConaghy continually adds elements that have little to no predicate.

Here's the thing about Franny Stone: I wish another writer would borrow liberally from her and write a better book for this character. Set it now, set it later if you commit to that setting -- as a character she's got a lot of raw material someone could shape in a way that has the potential to rivet me, get and keep me invested and permit me to be an active reader working to know her better, understand her. It's not possible with the Franny Stone in Migrations.

Last but not least: in this world technology is precisely where it is now.

The Saghani, MID-ATLANTIC OCEAN MIGRATION SEASON It has taken us a month to reach the equator. No birds, no fish, and no other boats for quite some time. We are utterly alone out here...

Although the story takes place in a vague future, decades or centuries McConaghy doesn't say, technology, some of which is key to the plot, has not advanced at all. Cars are less advanced than they are now. Boats and helicopters seem so too. Incredibly, batteries are still being used and laptops just like ours, whose batteries die with no superior method to recharge them. EPIRBs (boat distress alarms) are same as they are now as are navigation systems. Apparently satellites are no different either. Even the trackers on the terns are the same ones used today.

The atmosphere hasn't changed! A long list of disciplines -- I've edited them out for a bit of brevity ;) but they include every branch of science, tech and design -- have, within the pages of this book, contributed nothing. As I write there's an army of professionals and gifted inventors working in a myriad of capacities to prevent every possible likely scenario they can, and many scenarios seem inevitable. Maybe there was a plague in the intervening years of Migrations and it was the scientists, tech innovators and everyone else working on solutions who were the ones wiped out.

Livestock grazed, my eyes glazed. Franny swam and so did my head; it still is. I'm glad for everyone who loved it and wish I was among you but all I got from Migrations is time wasted and rising tides of exasperation.
Profile Image for Karen.
561 reviews1,105 followers
June 4, 2020
Every animal in the world is accelerating towards extinction.
Fanny, from Galway, Ireland has had a very sad and lonely past. She is on a mission to track what is predicted to be the last migration of terns that is left. She finds a fishing ship and weasels her way onto it and becomes part of the crew and she convinced them that with the tracking devices that she put on three of the terns.. if they follow the birds on their migration, they will find fish.
This book goes back and forth from different places and circumstances her life, her childhood, her marriage..
It was beautiful and heartbreaking and really makes you think. It was quite a journey!

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for the ARC!
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,229 reviews451 followers
September 13, 2020
Unequivocally my favorite book of the year. This Godforsaken year that has lasted for eons already, and still more to go. This year that has brought home to us all how much destruction we humans have inflicted on this earth, and how much more we have to lose if we don't start listening to the scientists. Flood, fire and pestilence is no longer just a jokey phrase uttered by me after watching the news, but a reality that we are living in. What have we done? I say we, because even those of us with the best intentions are culpable just because we are human.

This novel takes place in the very near future after a mass extinction has left almost no wild creatures in the actual wild, but just existing in a sanctuary in Scotland where they are protected and studied. The only migratory birds left are the Arctic Tern, with the longest migration of any bird, flying back and forth from the Arctic to the Antarctic
twice yearly searching for food. But there are very few fishes left in the sea, so this could very well be their last migration. Franny is determined to follow them. Franny herself is a damaged person, and the fishing vessel she manages to get a berth on is captained and crewed by others just as vulnerable.

Oh, the writing in this book, and the story! Oh, the beauty of our world, and the creatures still with us! Oh, the courage it takes for them to survive. Oh, this book! These characters!

I have no more Ohs in me right now, but I'm sure others who have read and will read this novel will come up with a few of their own. Anyone who doesn't believe in climate change already won't be affected, but then, they don't deserve to read something this beautiful anyway. And wouldn't get it if they did.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,417 reviews535 followers
October 17, 2020
Stunning and soaring, Migrations is alive within me. This isn't a book you finish and forget. Following Franny Stone's quest, I have been devastated, exhilarated, at the edge of my seat. Uplifted. It is an ode to wilderness, an adventure story, a thriller, a book that makes me look at the world differently.

(The audiobook is perfectly narrated by Barrie Kreinik)
Profile Image for Libby.
575 reviews157 followers
September 14, 2020
4.5 rounded up - This novel is author Charlotte McConaghy’s US debut, but this is not her first rodeo. She has eight books published in Australia. With writing skills that McConaghy’s has honed to the zenith, a capacity for emotional prose, and the ability to spin out suspense, revealing secrets from the main character’s past with a punch, I find the adjective that Emily St. John Mandel used to describe this book appropriate. “Extraordinary.” From the first sentence to the last, McConaghy’s writing is fluid with gorgeous runs of rich, lush, prose like the most heart-melting music.

Franny Stone has a wild woman inside of her, a voice that calls her to move on, move away, travel. She’s been in love with birds ever since her childhood when she befriended crows that then left her gifts. Now, she’s obsessed with the Arctic Terns, birds that have the longest migration of any animal. Flying from their Arctic breeding grounds to spend the summer in Antarctica, the birds will fly around 25,000 miles. Very cleverly, the author doesn’t place the novel on a dated timeline but uses Franny’s life and bird seasons for reference points. The reader soon realizes that in this novel, the world’s sixth mass extinction has gone to unprecedented levels. McConaghy writes "The animals are dying. Soon we will be alone here."

What happens to people who are passionate about the lives of animals when they see the horrible toll that the Age of Humans is taking on our planet? People, who genuinely care about nature, about the fact that humans have created an island of plastic in the middle of once-pristine oceans? Franny attends Professor Niall Lynch’s class at the National University of Ireland in Galway, even though she’s only a janitress and not a student. In him, she finds someone whose passion for birds matches her own. Can he hold Franny in one place? Stop her habit of leaving? Will he want to change the most defining characteristic of Franny’s personality?

Aboard the Saghani, Franny falls in with a group of eclectic sailors, who will become almost like family. Ennis Malone, the captain, is driven by the need to capture the “golden catch,” a harvest of fish so large that it will be talked about for years. Although Franny’s ethos is diametrically opposed to the business of fish harvesting, she finds a shared love of nature and the ocean with Ennis and the crew. She feels almost at home as they follow bleeps on her laptop from the Arctic Terns she banded, promising Ennis a chance at his “golden catch.” As the author slowly reveals Franny’s past through flashbacks and present circumstances, the suspense increases. Franny is a creature driven by obsession who takes chances and courts adrenaline.

What I love best about this novel is the feeling that McConaghy is writing an ode to nature, and to our connection to nature. Jobs, cement, skyscrapers, and ‘getting by’ in general may separate us from this connection...to the extent of a completely severed umbilical cord, but many of us feel the pain and the loss of what is happening to wildlife and to the planet.

"Her beak is red like she’s dipped it in blood. It turns her strong in my mind. I place her back in the nest and edge away, taking the cage with me. I want her to explode free. I want there to be fury in her wings and there is, she is glorious as she surges. Feet red to match her beak. A velvet cap of black. Twin blades of a tail and those wings, the sharpness of their edges, the elegance.”
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,034 reviews566 followers
November 22, 2022
She’s frozen and her tent has blown away but after six days Fran has finally banded her third. Her intention is to follow the migration of Arctic terns as they flee their breeding ground in Greenland and head to their winter quarters in the Antarctic Circle. These birds complete the longest migration of any animal and they complete it twice each year, as they’ll head back again in around six months. Their annual milage is calculated to be in excess of forty thousand miles and it can take up to three months to complete each journey. Fran plans to track them on her laptop computer as they fly south, but for her this is to be a one way trip. The only problem is, at this moment she has no way of getting access to a boat that will transport her on this crusade.

This might be the last migration of the these small but strong and brave birds. Global warming has taken its toll and the world’s animal life has been almost completely eradicated. It’s thought that in a few years forests will be gone too. Fran’s only hope is to beg a lift on one of the last fishing boats setting out in an attempt to hunt for the few fish that are left in the sea. She has a plan, the terns will need to feed at some point in their journey and that’s where the fish will be, the birds will find them. She believes this will be far south, well outside the normal fishing grounds.

Fran gets lucky when she manages to convince the captain of a fishing vessel who is desperate for one more big catch. She is a woman of few words, but she’s as strong and determined as the birds she plans to follow and is willing to take on any task to earn her passage on the boat. The crew are a mixed bag of sea dogs who largely resent her presence and the captain is pretty much invisible as he limits his movements to the boat's cabin and his own quarters. It’s going to be a tough journey but we start to learn, in flashbacks, that Fran's life has always been a difficult one. Her past is laid out in small, often cryptic, episodes. Born in Ireland but then transported to Australia, only to find her way back to the land of her birth some years later. We know she married but initially we know little of her husband or how they met. She’s a free spirit: a wonderer, a searcher… a leaver.

The journey is indeed a fraught one and all sorts of problems abound. It seems doubtful that they will be able to achieve either of their goals but through adversity comes respect and slowly Fran does at least forge an unlikely affinity with this motley group. And as a reader I had, by now, become close to them all. There is a good deal of darkness here both in the present and in the past but the characters are each, in their own way, compelling. I so want them to succeed, for some light to appear through the murk.

This is a tale about climate change and its effects, it’s an account of an epic journey and, above all, it’s Fran’s story. The deeper I got into this book the more eager I was to understand more clearly what it was that was driving this woman. I’d learned a lot along the way but there were still holes in the past that needed filling. My emotions were moving from sad to hopeful and then to near despair. The ending, when it comes, will satisfy some and disappoint others – such is the way with these things. In truth, I’m still fully processing how I feel about it.

It is a brilliantly written book by a talented Australian author. It packs a punch on many levels and I fully expect, and truly hope, that it’ll be a major success.

My sincere thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
977 reviews2,654 followers
May 12, 2020
DNF after 30+ pages and talking with a friend. Too depressing for this time in my life and too much sadness about animals :(
Profile Image for Brandon Baker.
Author 14 books2,736 followers
September 25, 2022
This one made me sob 😂
Tragic, haunting, dark, and beautiful.
This story is set in the near future, where most every wild animal is extinct. We follow Franny Stone (a complex narrator with a dark past) as she tracks the last known flock of Arctic Terns on their final migration.
This story is fairly depressing, but there’s a found family aspect that I just absolutely adored and loved how the characters interacted with one another (for the most part). McConaghy is amazing at writing complex, and realistically flawed characters. This is a story about love, and loss, and finding your place in the world, and I thought it was perfect!!!
Profile Image for Dolors.
522 reviews2,176 followers
February 15, 2021
A not so very distant future.
A world with less and less wildlife.
A woman with a restless heritage dealing with unspeakable trauma who escapes physical death but without reason to live.
An impossible quest to follow the last terns across the Artic Sea to see their ultimate journey, an act of faith or the blind faith of a deranged person?

“Migration” is a complex book but very easy to read; a book full of contrasts.
Half dystopia, half adventure and with special attention to the psychological portrait of its protagonist Franny Stone, it combines incredibly poetic musings with the most violent scenes that will leave more than one reader utterly shaken.

Rather than referring to the plot; something I believe to be secondary in this novel, I’d prefer to dig a bit deeper about the many ways in which the book has made me aware of the fragility of life. And the daily miracles we obviate due to our egocentric myopia.
Birds seem delicate creatures, their feathers soft, their legs brittle, but they are capable of Herculean efforts to follow their call, to honor their nature. They cover thousands of miles creating patterns that the human eye can’t see, patterns that go way back into past generations. Their migration is not only about finding sustenance or acclimating to more comfortable temperatures, it’s part of a more profound journey towards completion. In the weak we might finally discover the most courageous of hearts.

Like her precious terns, Franny migrates too.
She needs to travel from present to future, despite the gaping past that threatens to swallow up her whole. Her dreams, her hopes, her loved ones. Everything that once mattered to her is gone and there seems to be no way out of the inescapable fate that awaits her. And she is ready for it, she is eager to give herself to the depths, to dig deep into its waters. Water is the ever-present element in this story, it gives and takes away and it heals and damages those who love its indomitable nature.
But there are certain outcomes we can’t always foresee. People we suddenly bump into who change our perspectives, who challenge our prejudices. Beauty that only our eyes can see when we least expect it. This book has shown me that no matter how huge the loss, no matter how horrible the circumstances, there is hope as long as there is life. So let’s cherish it, this precious thing we have. Life.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,711 reviews2,236 followers
September 14, 2021

’The Animals are dying. Soon we will be alone here.

’Once, when the animals were going, really and truly and not just in warnings of dark futures but now, right now, in mass extinctions we could see and feel, I decided to follow a bird over an ocean. Maybe I was hoping it would lead me to where they’d all fled, all those of its kind, all the creatures we thought we’d killed. Maybe I thought I’d discover whatever cruel thing drove me to leave people and places and everything, always. Or maybe I was just hoping the bird’s final migration would show me a place to belong.’
‘Once, it was birds who gave birth to a fiercer me.’

Franny Stone is a haunted woman, haunted by the dying of the animals, and of the story of her life. Born in Australia in a small town, Franny’s mother was Irish, and so not long after her birth, they moved back to Galway, where Franny spent the first ten years of her life living ’in a wooden house so close to the sea I was able to tune my swift child’s pulse to the shhh shhh of the neap and spring tides,’ a place where she never felt like she belonged. She found her way of leaving through books, inside the pages of a novel lived the only beauty offered up by world, her Mam told her. A way to leave without really leaving.

Eventually, though she leaves, travels to Greenland to track the remaining Arctic terns as they will soon migrate to Antarctica, a flight averaging 93 days, with the annual return trip another 40 days. ’The distance they will travel over the course of their lives is the equivalent of flying to the moon and back three times.’

‘Personal’ problems create somewhat of a dilemna for her as to how to follow their course, but she manages to convince the captain of a herring boat, Ennis Malone, that she could be helpful to his cause. As they set out, Franny is put to work, learning the things she needs to in order to be a member of the crew, and as she toils, she shares her memories, her stories of her life before, and letters she’s kept. And what a memorable, if more than occasionally heartrending story it is.

This is predicted to be the last migration the terns will attempt. It’s expected they won’t survive it.’

Franny is drawn to, and seemingly has much in common with the sea, a sense of restlessness and unreliability, which added a slight, but nearly ever-present tension to this story, softened by the somewhat otherworldly atmosphere. I suspect this is one story that will stay with me for a long time, hauntingly beautiful writing with a wistful essence that pulled me in from the start.

Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
February 8, 2021
Review also published on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Brilliant. Moving. Uncharted.

Franny Stone is a damaged woman who loves with abandon and yet leaves with nary a thought.

She is the keeper of deep dark secrets, who is on a mission. To follow the last migration of the Arctic Terns from Greenland to Antarctica.

Dangerous, treacherous, and uncharted, Franny finds a way. Across the ocean on the Saghani, a fishing boat chartered by Captain Ennis Malone and his crew. They are fishermen looking for a haul, though impossible it may seem as fish, just like birds are hard to find.

At first, the crew is tough and exacting. Then they are kind, warm and funny.

Franny, known for wanderlust, has never stayed in one place for too long, until now.

Her messy, rocky, tumultuous past is shown in flashbacks. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie, sometimes atmospheric and poignant.

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy is a novel about family, marriage, love, and loss. There is a haunting, mysterious, mystical quality here that made me feel as if I was almost dreaming while listening to this.

The writing here is simply gorgeous and the story is utterly compelling. Franny’s life, her heartbreak, her desire for love and family, and her desperate need to follow the Arctic Terns burrowed deep into my soul.

In case you couldn’t tell, “Migrations” will stay with me. It is a story about loss and survival and it is not to be missed.

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of this audiobook. The narration was phenomenal!

Published on Goodreads, Twitter, and Insta on 2.8.21
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,458 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.