On Christmas morning a biblically epic storm traps Sarah Barnard and her horse on the (nominally Tasmanian) Devil’s Mountain. Sarah finds shelter and supplies at an abandoned workmen’s camp and settles in for what she hopes is just an uncomfortable night. And then out of the rain and mist emerges a lone, unequipped bushwalker. Sarah now has to contend not just with an increasingly destructive storm, but also with the unsettling presence of a handsome stranger, Heath, whose story rapidly unravels. Is he alone? Why is he really on the mountain? And how does he know it so well when he claims not to? As if this isn’t enough, hidden essentials go missing, supplies begin to dwindle and, as Sarah and Heath reach an uneasy intimacy, dangerous undercurrents in their lives are revealed. Honey Brown, author of the Miles Franklin-longlisted The Good Daughter (Viking) does an excellent job of this taut and atmospheric thriller, successfully adding a darkly sexy tone. The characters are well drawn and charismatic, and the twists are great—even the reader gets trapped and confused by lies. And hooray for the twist at the end, I’m still puzzling it over.
Catherine Schulz is an indie bookseller at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart. This review first appeared on the Books+Publishing website in March 2013. View more pre-publication reviews here.