All the Birds Singing; Evie Wyld
Pantheon - 2014
When I first heard about this book, I was so intrigued and anxious to try it as it seemed to have many of the elements I like in a novel: a woman living alone in isolation with animals as companions (dog and sheep) and supposedly a story of survival and redemption.
Briefly, the central character, Jake Whyte is the woman who is living in isolation on a small island off the coast of England, along with her dog named "Dog". She tends a flock of sheep, a skill she picked up when she lived in Australia. She is not interested in connecting with locals even though she has been in the area for 3 years. Lately, her solitary life finds Jake a bit unhinged. Someone or something is killing off her flock of sheep. But, what brought Jake here in the first place? Is she trying to hide from someone and why?
Bit by bit the readers learns about Jake's horrific past in Australia where she first learned her sheep shearing skills. Why does she suffers from bad dreams and paranoia, why is her body heavily scarred? How much of her fear is real and what is imagined, and, why does she sleep with a hammer under her pillow?
Told in two timelines, the book is deeply menacing. I thought it was a tough story to read and, although the book was just 225 pages, it ultimately was a hard one to finish for me. The writing was very good --vivid and it left a lasting impression, there was an element of mystery and psychological suspense. In the end there was just too gore for me. A very bleak story, definitely not for the faint of heart.