What we’re reading: Birch, Marillier & Bitto

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


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Tye Cattanach is reading Dark as Last Night by Tony Birch

If you wanted to start a fight with me, one of the surest ways would be to try to convince me Tony Birch is not one of the FINEST storytellers in this country. Because, to sound kinda ‘90s right now. HE SO IS.

I have long admired Tony’s writing, his ability to make the reader feel a part of the story he is telling, in an almost voyeuristic kind of way. Tony possesses a unique ability to make his readers feel included, present. This allows for a deeper level of empathy and compassion to be achieved and that, in my experience as a reader, is incredibly rare. Every time I finish a novel, a poem or a story of his, I feel a true sense of loss. Not because reading his work cost me something as a reader, but because I miss the people I was reading about, as though they were in fact people in my own life.

As a reader, I come away from his writing feeling a great many things, but if I had to narrow it down to one emotion or word? Gratitude. I am grateful to be a reader of his work. Grateful to have gained new insight, knowledge and understanding of people, situations and histories previously unknown and unseen to me. Dark As Last Night is a masterpiece, and Tony Birch is a national treasure. Fight Me.


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Lian Hingee is reading Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

I’m a sucker for a really competent heroine. When life’s tough, and a bit out of my control, and I can feel myself spiralling, I just yearn for a Flora Poste, or a Sophie Hatter, or a Mary Poppins to come in and Sort Things Out. I went on a hunt recently for more books featuring really competent heroines, and was directed to check out the Blackthorn and Grim series by NZ writer Juliet Marillier. The vengeful – but competent – Blackthorn is given the opportunity to escape her death sentence on the proviso that she uses her skills and knowledge only for good, and doesn’t pursue justice against the evil chieftain who wronged her. Reluctantly she agrees, and with fellow former-inmate Grim, finds herself under a fae-spell to provide help to anyone who requests her aid – no matter who they are.

Strongly influenced by fairytales (including one of my favourites, the wonderfully macabre The Goose Girl) Dreamer’s Pool is a rich historical fantasy with several compelling storylines, wonderfully rendered characters, and two more books to enjoy afterwards. Perfect for anyone wanting a little holiday from real life.


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Mark Rubbo is reading Wild Abandon by Emily Bitto

I have just started Emily Bitto’s new book, Wild Abandon. To get away from the grief of his breakup Will decides to splurge his savings on a trip the US. Landing in New York he’s got a place to crash and the number of a dealer and he’s to out stretch as many boundaries as he can, and his older brother’s best friend Paul is there to help.

It certainly lives up to its title of Wild Abandon; you can feel the visceral rush of a wild New York. I can’t wait to get back it.

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Dark as Last Night

Dark as Last Night

Tony Birch

$29.99Buy now

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