Lisa Fuller, Ghost Bird, University of Queensland Press, October 2019, 280 pp., RRP $19.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780702260230
Lisa Fuller is a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Eidsvold, in Queensland, a place she uses as the background to this, her debut novel. Fuller acknowledges the permission she received from family members to write about the town and, importantly, the community’s culture and spiritual beliefs.
Stacey and Alana (Laney) are twins – unusually they are mirror twins. This means they are different in personality and even in many ways in behaviour. Nonetheless, they are close in the way perhaps only twins can be and they share an understanding of each other that other people don’t. When Laney goes missing, Stacey’s dreams become nightmares and she realises her twin is in great danger. How will these nightmares help Stacey find her sister when she is not even sure what they mean? And what, or who, are these mysterious and threatening creatures which are a terrifying part of these dreams? While her mother and all the other adults of her mob are searching for Laney, Stacey realises that she needs the help of members of another mob, a mob with whom her family have not been on friendly terms for some time. All is not what it first appears though, and there is much more to members of this family than Stacey knows. Braving racists bullies and the dangerous creatures which seem to want to kidnap her too, Stacey and her friends discover the reasons behind Laney’s disappearance, dispel the threatening beings and rescue her sister.
Fuller builds a frightening suspense throughout the book and the scene where the teenagers need to use light to keep the beings away is powerful. The dialogue throughout the book gives a rounded picture of each character and works well to move the action along. The evocation of place is strong with authentic descriptions of a small country town, the surrounding bushland and the life-giving river flowing nearby.
This is a welcome addition to YA novels by Indigenous authors in Australia.
Reviewed by Margot Hillel