Jake Whyte, the female protagonist in Wyld’s riveting second novel (following After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, 2009), lives alone on a bleak island off the British coast. A sheep farmer, Jake finds that her primary companion is her dog, named simply Dog. Trouble arises when someone, or something, begins killing Jake’s sheep one by one. At first, Jake suspects local teenagers or a wild animal, but it quickly becomes clear that the entity, real or imagined, is far more mysterious. Jake’s vivid tale unfolds in a double narrative. As events in her life on the island move forward chronologically, episodes from her prior life are revealed in reverse, incrementally uncovering the menacing details of her past. These include the time she spent working as a shearer at a sheep station in western Australia, a harrowing turn as a prostitute, and the traumatic events that lie at the root of Jake’s perpetual transience and isolation. Jake is both haunted by the past and struggling with the present, and the intensity of Wyld’s sharp novel grows as the two threaten to collide.
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