Molly Hook is a gravedigger’s daughter stuck in a pretty miserable existence in Darwin, 1942, as the Japanese bombs start raining from the sky. After losing her mum at a very young age, she spends her days digging up graves for her father and uncle’s nefarious purposes, kept company by her friend Bert the shovel.
She longs to solve the puzzle of the curse placed on her grandfather and which has plagued multiple generations of her family since. To do this she needs to go on a bit of a quest through the northern Australian bush. Of course it wouldn’t be a quest without some quirky travel companions, and along with Bert, Molly has an aspiring actress, a fallen Japanese soldier, and other (somewhat) incredulous characters to join her.
The description of Darwin and surrounding scenery in this novel is nothing short of wonderful – a glance at the cover of the book will give you an idea of the flora and fauna that feature heavily throughout. It seems like the author has done a lot of research and made connections with First Nations people to do the best he can at accurately representing the spirituality and wonder that can only be experienced when immersed in the environment of the Northern Territory.
I really enjoyed the first quarter of the story that did all the ‘setting up’, and even the middle part when the quest was beginning. For me though, the story fell off the rails a bit at the end; I did enjoy the magical aspects of the tale but towards the end I had more and more trouble suspending disbelief.
All in all it was a good read and a nice escape to nature while still sitting on the couch. The cover provides a few bonus hours of distraction searching for the hidden pictures.