Secrets of the Land by Kate Mahony
This haunting novel opens in Melbourne in 2018 when a stranger dressed in an oversized jacket approaches Imogen on the street and says that her grandfather in New Zealand needs her help. But Imogen has been led to believe that her grandfather is dead. Bewildered by the unusual encounter, Imogen carries on to meet her boyfriend, who blindsides her when he declares he is going back to his estranged wife.
Imogen decides to proceed with their planned trip to New Zealand but diverts to Taranaki instead, the investigative journalist in her curious about the stranger’s words.
When she arrives in Taranaki, she finds her gruff granddad is very much alive, but someone is trying to frighten him off his farm. But who is doing this, and why are they doing this?
The novel also follows the story of Imogen’s mother, Aoife, in Taranaki in 1976 as a young girl, and also the story of Irishman Michael in 1864. It turns out there is a long shadow over Imogen’s grandfather’s farm, which stretches back to two young Irishmen joining the British army to fight against Taranaki Māori.
A stunning novel, the story seamlessly slips from 1864 to 1876 to 2018, combining the three stories in a way that makes sense by the end of the novel. Secrets of the Land is a tale where the past haunts the present, but secrets refuse to stay hidden. This is an engrossing literary read with well-researched historical facts at its core. Kate Mahony is a very talented writer, and I can’t wait to read future works by this accomplished author.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Cloud Ink Press