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Reviewed by Chris Reed
Opening sentence
More and more, the histories of our country are being told through the medium of both school structures (just take a glance at the new Aotearoa histories curriculum for an insight into the changes coming to a school near you!) right the way through to the novels themselves. In another instalment of such a genre comes the story of a young man caught up with some pretty rough individuals in the 1800s. The author, John Evan Harris, goes to great lengths to ensure the piece feels realistic and as authentic to its origin as possible, while still creating a good old fashioned yarn.

While it has the potential to be a rip roarer of a ride through the annals of New Zealand’s history, told through the escapades of some of the most ruthless individuals to ever grace our shores, it never fully delivers for the target age group. The dialogue feels a little disjointed with a hybrid mix of line walking in maximising the language of the time, but also making it palatable to an audience quite removed from this style of speaking.

The story itself has the action that many young people want in a modern novel, but the nature of historical dramas never quite has the same impact as futuristic pieces, or those which have fantastic beasts or some element of the supernatural.

Writing-wise, Harris is someone who knows how to put pen to paper. The prose is fluent and hangs together well between chapters, it’s just the slightly off language that I wonder about with modern readers.
Publisher: Roiall Emerald
ISBN: 9780473555139
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2022
Ages: 10+