2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: The Liars by Petronella McGovern

Title: The Liars

Author: Petronella McGovern

Published: August 30th 2022

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 424

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

A wife burning with resentment. A husband hiding the past. Their teenage daughter crusading for the truth. Who can we trust?

The close-knit community of Kinton Bay is shocked when fifteen-year-old Siena Britton makes a grisly discovery near a cave in the national park. Siena believes it’s a skull from the town’s violent colonial past and posts a video which hits the news headlines.

But her parents, Meri and Rollo, think the skull is related to their teenage parties in the Killing Cave back in the 1990s. And a school mate who went missing then.

None of them foresees the dangers that the discovery will create for their family. The dangers of past deceits, silences and lies that have never been resolved.

The Liars is a heart-stopping cocktail of family secrets, sinister unsolved disappearances and a community at war with itself.


One of Australia’s favourite authors in the contemporary field returns with her latest top-notch release, The Liars. A viscous tale of family, secrets, lies, murder, suspense and small-town issues, The Liars proved to be an exciting novel that kept me guessing from cover to cover.

The Liars takes the reader to Kinton Bay, a small coastal community that is in shock when a local teenager stumbles across skeletal remains in a cave nestled in a nearby national park. With the town housing plenty of unsolved mysteries and a dark colonial history, the remains found in this local national park could belong to anyone.  When the teenager who discovered the bones posts a video about her experience, it goes viral. The unearthing of these bones also sends shock waves through the community of Kinton Bay.  An old missing persons case bubbles to the surface – could this body be the remains of a classmate who perished two decades ago? What trouble and issues will arise in the wake of this frightful discovery?

Petronella McGovern has been on the up in the Australian publishing industry since the release of her debut novel Six Minutes. It is great to see McGovern return with a gripping new novel. I think The Liars is McGovern’s best yet.

Format wise, I loved how The Liars is structured. Relayed over five main parts and in a shared narration set, I was utterly magnetised by this one. The overarching theme of whales sings through this novel. I was amazed from the start by the informative interludes containing anecdotes of this majestic creature, it tied in so well to the coastal setting. There is so much to unpack in The Liars, but I never felt overwhelmed. With themes of the past, maritime history, coastal dangers, Indigenous connections, social media, date rape, homophobia, reporting, abuse, extortion and power, The Liars is completely consuming. There are also a number of mysteries linked to the main murder case, which definitely exercised my mind. I loved the unknown narrator component, it certainly added a significant air of intrigue. Relationships of varying sorts underpin The Liars, which range from parental, to marriage, siblings and friendships, which helped me to become deeply invested in the Kinton Bay community. The pace zips along quickly as this psychological tale unfolds and the reader is kept in the dark until the final hour. I was surprised but how much this one affected me, I really did connect with The Liars.

A textured psychological thriller that encompasses voices of truth, lies, deceit, deception and benevolence, The Liars is a first rate read that I mightily recommend.

The Liars by Petronella McGovern was published on 30th August 2022 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Liars, Petronella McGovern, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.


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