Cels Reviews: Kate Gordon—"Thyla"

Whenever you read a story set in a particular place you know that vividly describes sights, sounds and smells, the sense of place adds an extra dose of magic to the whole experience. Set in Tasmania and interwoven with its rich convict history as well as the here and now, Thyla is a breath of fresh shape-shifter scented air. Gordon has let her imagination roam amongst folklore and fact and has created a world of wonder and delight.

A teenage girl is found alone in the bush with some strange injuries and no memory whatsoever, just a name–Tessa. Taken under the wing of  Connelly, a policewoman  whose own daughter has disappeared without a trace, Tessa finds herself at Cascade Falls boarding school; and, as she comes to terms with uncovering her memories, she finds herself becoming part of a world few know exist. A world of war and the fight against evil.

Thyla is full of the normal high school drama, but with a fantastic new twist. You have the normal cliques and growing pains to deal with, but when you’re trying to uncover who the ‘you’ is you have forgotten, and learn who you can really trust with your discoveries,  it can be agonising. For Tessa, this is a great struggle; but, for the reader, it adds a deeper connection with the protagonist. The book’s feel is unique: it is written in first person, but in the style of a journal entry-type reflection, with real time action thrown in. All in all, Gordon has captured a fresh feeling on the page, taking the concept of shape-shifters and shaking it up to make it uniquely her own, and uniquely Tasmanian.

A truly beautiful story set in one of the most idyllic settings, Thyla not only breaks the mould–it smashes it to smithereens. Thyla is released April 1st and the sequel, Vulpi, is coming soon. I am eagerly awaiting a chance to visit Tessa’s world once again!

Thyla–Kate Gordon

Published April 1st 2011 by Random House Australia

Paperback, 279 pages


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