This is book three of a series dealing with a particular family in New South Wales; the Fifes, who were perhaps typical of many settler families of the time, a mixture of white and aboriginal mixed children. This particular book focuses on a young five-year-old boy and his two older cousins who are taken to a school to be taught to be white. Jarrah, will not accept this fate and plots and plans for the day he can escape and return to his beloved homeland on the edges of the Dreaming Billabong. Another branch of this family is living the high-life in Sydney until the father's gambling addiction and ties to the criminal underworld, force a need to escape.
Shell captures extremely well the deep ties the Aboriginal have to their land and the cruelties inflicted on them by the white government of Australia. Personally, I was horrified to realise that even as late as the 1950's Aboriginal affairs were legislated under the Flora and Fauna Act - plants and animals. They didn't even warrant the status of human beings.
This is an exciting and fast-moving tale that draws you in and allows you to emotionally attach to the characters, especially the children. My only minor complaint would be the excessive use of the Aussie slang in the opening chapter. I was left wondering a little, just what was happening to whom. I'm aware the author provided a glossary of terms at the end of the book, but if I was a less determined reader and not a Kiwi, familiar with many of the terms, I might have been tempted to give up before I got to the real meat of the book. I'm glad I persevered, because this is a wonderful story, beautifully told.
The author knew exactly when to stop and tease the reader with the next book in the series. I have no choice now but to read the next book and find out what happens to young Jarrah, his Uncle Iain and all the other characters. An excellent read. I enjoyed it and happily give it the five stars it deserves.
Check out Ryn Shell's work here: http://amzn.to/1J8dAex