Book Review: Crimson Dawn

crimsonCrimson Dawn is the fifth book from Australian rural fiction author Fleur McDonald. This is the first book of McDonald’s that I have read and am excited to say I am looking forward to reading more. Rural fiction is a new genre for me, and with my focus this year to read more widely, the genre has been an exciting find.

Crimson Dawn follows the character Laura Murphy as she takes over the running of the sheep station she grew up on from her Grandfather. Laura has done well to work the property and has even set up a school on the property to teach women the basics of farm management. However Laura, is plagued by an event from her past that will again come to haunt her and deliver her some startling and troubling revelations. Crimison Dawn is a tale of betrayal, determination, and hidden family secrets that intertwine with various intricate subplots along the way. McDonald weaves effortlessly from present day Laura to another character, Laura’s Great Uncle Thomas Murphy and his trials from childhood onwards.

I found Crimson Dawn to be an easy and interesting read. McDonald has a great talent of painting beautiful landscapes with her words, so much so that you feel you are looking out over Nambina (the sheep station) with Laura. She portrayed Laura as a likeable and appealing character and illustrated her passion and love for the land beautifully.

Although I enjoyed the storyline with its twists and turns, and at times, compelling tension, there were some issues.

I felt the pacing was staggered. It began well flowing nicely for the first hundred pages but then it seemed to falter, becoming slow and almost cumbersome at times. You knew the book was going somewhere with a lot building, but at the same time not actually going anywhere. I also found the subplots, although woven through well, did seem to distract from the main storyline at times.

We are told in the blurb on the back of the book that Laura is contacted by a solicitor to inform her his clients have made a claim for the property, but it isn’t until 300 pages in that Laura is actually served the documents. Once this happens, however the story begins to move forward at lightening pace with startling revelations and interesting twists. The last few chapters were emotional and brought tears of empathy, sadness and happiness to my eyes.

There is no doubt that McDonald is a creative and talented author and I would definitely highly recommend Crimson Dawn as worth reading. I enjoyed the book and once the story got moving found it hard to put down. I look forward to reading more from this author. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Have you read any of Fleur McDonald’s books?
What other rural fiction have you read and would recommend?