Title: A Treacherous Country
Author: K.M. Kruimink
Published: April 21st 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4 stars
WINNER OF THE AUSTRALIAN/VOGEL’S LITERARY AWARD
There is a woman, somewhere, here, in Van Diemen’s Land, unless she had died or otherwise departed, called Maryanne Maginn.
Gabriel Fox, the young son of an old English house, arrives in a land both ancient and new.
Drawn by the promise of his heart’s desire, and compelled to distance himself from pain at home, Gabriel begins his quest into Van Diemen’s Land.
His guide, a Cannibal who is not all he seems, leads him north where Gabriel might free himself of his distracting burden and seek the woman he must find. As Gabriel traverses this wild country, he uncovers new truths buried within his own memory.
Authentic, original and playful, A Treacherous Country is a novel of loyalty, wisdom and the freedom to act.
On April 20th 2020, The Australian/Vogel Literary Award was announced online as K.M. Kruimink, for her manuscript A Treacherous Country. Allen and Unwin has published Kruimink’s award winning piece and it was a great pleasure to be able to review A Treacherous Country. A novel told with wide eyed naivety, wit and historical insight, Kruimink’s prize winning book is a strong literary offering.
A Treacherous Country charts the incredible journey of Gabriel Fox, an Englishman who arrives on the menacing shores of notorious convict country, Van Diemen’s Land. Gabriel is tasked with the job of finding a woman who first set foot on Van Diemen’s Land some thirty years ago. What follows is a tough, as well as eye opening adventure. With a figure named Cannibal accompanying him, Gabriel crosses dangerous terrain. Along the way Gabriel confronts hard truths about his new environment, his mission and his past. A unique story that is credible, vivid and spirited, A Treacherous Country is an astonishing record of the past.
The recipient of one of Australia’s most lucrative awards for a writer, A Treacherous Country has made very early waves in the literary world. K.M. Kruimink’s introspective novel provides the reader with a rich and unique insight into Van Diemen’s Land in the nineteenth century. These early days of Australia’s past were incredibly hazardous and precarious. The impact of colonisation was ever present as Van Diemen’s Land was establishing itself. Kruimink does an excellent job of setting the scene and immersing her audience in Australia’s turbulent past.
Our guide for this novel’s incredulous journey is Gabriel Fox, a man who is very green to Van Diemen’s Land. We are firmly rooted inside Gabriel’s head for the duration of the novel. Gabriel’s perceptions fluctuate from quite meaningful moments and solid impressions to comical episodes. The natural environment is a force to be reckoned with, overshadowing virtually all moments of Gabriel’s trek. I really enjoyed these aspects of A Treacherous Country. The weight of the strange and wild country Gabriel must traverse plays heavily on our lead’s mind. It is a tumultuous, but relatively short sojourn. Kruimink pits Gabriel against plenty of interesting situations, which he must negotiate in order to reach his end goal. I wasn’t too sure of the ending, which seemed to come rather swiftly after all I had invested in Gabriel’s quest.
With themes of adventure, exploration, danger, injustice, freedom, choice, exploration, companionship, loyalty, family and desire, A Treacherous Country is an assured historical fiction composition.
A Treacherous Country by K.M. Kruimink was published on April 21st 2020 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
*I wish to thank Allen & Unwin for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
A Treacherous Country is book #68 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge