Review Blog

Dec 03 2019

Ghost bird by Lisa Fuller

cover image

University of Queensland Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780702260230.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Themes: Mystery, Aboriginal beliefs, Speculative fiction. When Stacey's twin, Laney, goes missing the entire mob goes into action to find her. But Stacey has been hiding Laney's romance, her lies and her after-dark exploits with the bad-boy Troy from her protective mother. The uncertainty surrounding the missing twin escalates and the mystery of the taboo mountain near where Laney disappeared, combined with the racist family that lives nearby, adds layers of intrigue and threat. The dramatic disappearance releases all manner of uncertainties in the Aboriginal community, highlighting racism against their mob, but also inter-family distrust that had its genesis many generations before. Stacey struggles as her mother's protection goes into over-drive. Then, as her dream-life takes on a scarily ominous tone, it causes her to abandon her good-girl persona and take risks in her friendships and in her attempts to find her twin. The dark and un-named superstitions that surround the taboo mountain descend and take on physical form and create a frightening and bewildering scenario for the young teen.
Part coming-of-age story, part 'Romeo and Juliet' romance, part speculative fiction, part Aboriginal spiritual revelation, part mystery - this is a story that is mature on many levels. In the voice of Aboriginal teens and their community (with some rough-and-ready grammar, language and expressions) from the town of Eidsvold in rural Queensland, this is a story that reveals a non-white view of the world, and an Aboriginal religious perspective that is seldom known in the wider non-indigenous community. Because of this, a powerful insight is given into the love and experience of a family who are open to non-scientific explanations for what happens in the world. The community experience and the history of racism and its impacts are also revealed from the perspective of an Aboriginal voice.
This book has won acclaim as the winner of the David Unaipon Award and it works powerfully on many levels. The tension towards the end of the narrative is palpable and reveals the deft touch by the author and makes this teenage story a powerful piece of speculative fiction. Teacher's notes are available. (Note: Language warning; Sexual assaults mentioned)
Carolyn Hull

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