There is only so much one can read about little girls murdered by big bad men. I know it makes for an easy plot, but, dear writers, give me a break!
And it is such a shame, because Chris Womersley knows how to write. As in he can produce beautiful sentences. He can create great atmosphere – there is Australia, First World War and epidemic. There could be a way better story cooked with those ingredients but Womersley goes for the cliché. I’m yet to read a book where the big bad child murderer/pedophile is actually a character rather than a cardboard cut-out. You could swap all the big bad men around all those books and no one would notice.
It’s easy to write a story out a big drama like that and it’s easy to forgo any nuances in the characters’ personalities. I wish there was as much TLC given to the description of them as there was given to portraying the landscape. Also, building up the tension is a fairly simple task. It’s delivering the resolution afterwards that really measures the writer’s talent. And I can’t say that Womersley knocked my socks off with the ending. The two main characters - Quinn, the older brother of the murdered girl, and Sadie - an orphan he meets in the bushes upon his return to his home town. The two of them are ghostlike carrying on on the fringe of the 'real life', and as cliche as it would've been, a clear sixth-sense sort of ending might've saved this book for me.
What’s more, I listened to this book on my ipod read by Dan Wyllie, who has got a very low, husky voice (and a sexy Australian accent), which is all great, as long as he doesn’t have to do a twelve-year old girl, which sadly he does as she one of the main characters. It definitely added creepiness to this book (fairly creepy already).
Chris Womersley is lucky I’m a sucker for beautiful writing, so I gave Bereft three stars, because in all honesty Jodi Picoult writes this book so much better.