Review Blog

Aug 01 2011

Thyla by Kate Gordon

cover image

Random House Australia, 2011. ISBN 9781864718812.
(Age 13+) Recommended. Tessa was found in a cave in the bush, dirty, ragged and with her memory gone. 'My name is Tessa. I am strong. I am brave. I do not cry. These are the only things I know for certain.'(Back cover). Connolly, a policewoman found her a place in a boarding school. Connolly's daughter, Cat, had disappeared from there and Tessa is convinced that there is a connection between Cat and herself. As her memory gradually comes back and the strange stripes on her back begin to darken, Tessa begins to make connections with the cruel mysteries that have brought her to this place.
Gordon has made a fascinating foray into the paranormal fantasy genre. Her Australian setting of the mountains and bush in Tasmania, of thylacines and convicts, gives it a unique flavour and will certainly appeal to readers who enjoy the vampire story. I started this book thinking that it may be about the adventures and feelings of a feral girl found in the wilderness, but Gordon gave me many surprises as she led me on a exciting read of people with incredible powers in a fight against evil predators. To say more would spoil the story!
Gordon's use of Australian history made this an original story that kept me reading. I loved the information about the Female Factory in Hobart and the plight of women in convict times. I also loved the descriptions of the cliques in the modern boarding school and how girls can manipulate and bully. But most of all I enjoyed Tessa's coming of age as she discovers who she is and what she is capable of. There is a slight hint of romance, which no doubt will be explored more in Vulpi, the next in the series.
With its accessibility and Australian setting, it should make a good contrast to all the American paranormal romances that are around at the moment. It is certainly worth having on the library shelf or using in the classroom.
Pat Pledger

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