2017 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction

Book Review: The Shifting Light by Alice Campion

Title: The Shifting Lightthe shifting light small.jpg

Author:  Alice Campion

Published: January 30th 2017

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 368

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

Nina Larkin should be happy. She’s transformed her rundown outback property, The Springs, into a successful artists’ retreat; she’s won a distinguished art prize, and she’s living with her soulmate, trail-blazing grazier Heath Blackett.

But the chance discovery of a portrait of her father, renowned artist Jim Larkin, makes her question everything. How could it have been drawn just weeks ago when Jim has been dead for years . . . Or so she thought.

Could her father still be alive? Can she track down the man in the picture? And is this connected to the missing gold buried by her ancestor over a century ago?

Her search for answers will draw Nina into a maze of family secrets – just as the man who stepped out of a portrait arrives at her door . . .

Alice Campion is the pseudonym for four members of a Sydney book club. Their first novel, The Painted Sky, also features Nina, Heath and the captivating landscape of outback Wangalla.

My review:

In 2015, Alice Campion, the collective group of women from a book club in NSW who turned their hand to writing, dazzled me with their great Australian yarn, The Painted Sky. Alice is back with a bang, ready to tie up some loose threads that were left dangling in The Painted Sky, in a new rural instalment titled, The Shifting Light. It was a true pleasure to revisit Nina Larkin, as I had a sneaky feeling when I finished Campion’s first novel that Nina’s journey wasn’t quite over.

Nina Larkin has worked hard to revitalise her property, The Springs. Nina’s vision for The Springs is finally becoming a reality. She now owns a successful business as an artist’s retreat. On a personal level, Nina has also experienced success in the art field and she has been the recipient of an art prize. On the romance side, Nina is happily in love with Heath Blackett, a local grazier. The perfect world Nina has worked so hard to build is shattered when she comes across a portrait that resembles her father, Jim Larkin, a celebrated artist. The portrait appears recent, but Nina’s father has been dead for many years. Nina is immediately compelled to put the mystery of this portrait to rest and her quest takes her deep into a complex web of family secrets.

Alice Campion, the awe inspiring team behind the book The Shifting Light, has done it once again. The Shifting Light is another ripping Aussie page turner. I could not for the life of me put this book down until I solved the mystery behind the portrait in the novel. Campion has really worked to lure the reader into this sequel to The Painted Sky. The discovery of the mysterious painting of a father who has been presumed dead for many years, sparked my immediate interest in this novel. My continued interest in The Shifting Light was mainly down to the significance of this painting.

I need to make it clear that The Shifting Light can be read as a standalone novel. Although it is the sequel to The Painted Sky, I believe there is enough backfill provided by Campion to ensure that the reader does not feel that they have missed any crucial information. It was however a delight to discover how Nina was progressing with her life dreams. Through the unfolding narrative in The Shifting Light, we discover how Nina’s love life, career achievements and home renovations have flourished. I wasn’t too surprised by the direction Nina’s life had taken, but what I was shocked at was the discovery of the portrait of a man who closely resembles Nina’s father, this aspect really saw the book soar.

Campion is a master at providing a ruse behind her central book mystery. I loved that The Shifting Light provided one of my favourite aspects of a narrative complication. The unearthing of a recent portrait was an excellent choice on behalf of the author. It certainly served to hook me into the book further. There are some cracker twists and intriguing family secrets that go hand in hand with this aspect of the story. It is hard to discuss this aspect of the narrative for fear of ruining it for potential readers! I will say it is absorbing and unpredictable.

As with the predecessor to The Shifting Light, Campion displays a flair for setting detail. We are again transported to the stunning outback locale of Wandalla. Through Campion’s prose, I felt the peace, isolation and sheer natural beauty of this quintessential Aussie locale. The Springs is the perfect place to house an artist’s retreat. It gave me the urge on more than one occasion to pick up paintbrush, easel and canvas and go for it myself! Likewise, the sprawling cattle property of Kurrabar, Heath’s pride and joy, was painted with a sure hand.

The Shifting Light is a captivating story incorporating love and a line of suspense. The ends to this novel were tied together nicely by the time I reached the conclusion. The Shifting Light is another fabulous team effort from the posse behind Alice Campion. I’m glad this collective have secured a three book deal with Penguin Random House, as I am eagerly awaiting their next adventure.

The Shifting Light by Alice Campion was published on January 30th 2017 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Shifting Light, Alice Campion, visit here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Shifting Light by Alice Campion

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