All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Under The Midnight Sky by Anna Romer

on May 29, 2019

Under The Midnight Sky
Anna Romer
Simon & Schuster AUS
2019, 400p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred twenty years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose.

But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.

As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.

But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

When I received this, I was immediately taken by the cover, which is beautifully atmospheric and gives a real sense of the Australian rural landscape setting. I was very keen to start it and some good reviews from people I trust had me convinced that I would really enjoy this. And I did!

Abby works as a journalist for the newspaper in her hometown. She’s full of story ideas, especially concerning an area of bushland where several things have happened in the past and now, with a teenager likely going missing again, Abby is firmly convinced that there’s something going on. Her editor isn’t particularly enthusiastic about her ideas though but she attempts to bargain with Abby – if Abby gets an interview with the reclusive author Tom Gabriel, who has just moved to the local area, she’ll publish the story Abby wants to write.

Abby and Tom don’t exactly hit it off on first meeting. He thinks she’s the housekeeper he’s expecting but Abby is determined to get her story. In the end there’s a mutual agreement……Tom is in need of inspiration and the information Abby gives him about things that have happened in the local area years ago might just provide it. And Abby needs her story on Tom so they team up together to unravel some mysteries of the past and maybe just one in the present as well.

The setting was really excellent. It has such a genuine small town feel. Abby has really struggled with coming to terms with an issue in her past and she holds a lot of people at a distance now, as an adult. Her family relationships are also quite complex and those have shaped her character too. I liked her relationship with her brother and the way in which he encourages her to remember the good things from the past, rather than focusing on the things that made life difficult. Abby was a very interesting character, I really got a good sense of how she struggled with what had happened when she was younger and the way it made her feel about the local area. She seems to see danger everywhere she goes but her instincts are pretty good. She’s the only one putting things together….no one else sees anything sinister.

Interspersed with Abby and Tom in the present are chapters from a diary, from another time period and these were so well done. I just wanted to know more about what had happened in that part of the story and how it had happened and what had become of all the people involved. It built the tension in such a clever way and I was so invested in the outcome. Abby and Tom made a good team with some simmering romantic tension between them as well. But as Tom has already been betrayed by a journalist before it’s difficult for him to reconcile with that part of Abby’s life. He’s agreed to give the interview and Abby assures him he’ll be able to approve her piece before she submits it but there’s a definite lack of trust at first, where Tom doesn’t want to give too much of himself away, lest Abby take advantage of it in the line of her job. It was also quite fun reading about Tom’s journey to becoming an author and how he was currently struggling with his novel, just not hitting the voice that he was after. The fact that he’s currently not particularly mobile is also contributing to his frustration and Abby’s arrival in his life comes at a moment that is probably quite good timing, re-energising him and giving him new aspects to consider for his book.

I really enjoyed this – from start to finish it was an engrossing read that kept me guessing right up until the very end. The reveal was also very well done as well, for just the right amount of shock value. I have two other books from Anna Romer sitting on my TBR shelf and this has been a strong reminder that I really must get to them because if they’re as good as this one, I have a treat ahead for me!


Book #77 of 2019

Under The Midnight Sky is the 35th book read for The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

5 responses to “Review: Under The Midnight Sky by Anna Romer

  1. Marg says:

    I read her first or second book and really enjoyed it. Haven`t read any since though!!

  2. Lauren K says:

    I really loved her other two books! I’ll have to get myself a copy of this one too- sounds great

  3. […] Under The Midnight Sky by Anna Romer. My review. […]

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