Shepherd by Catherine Jinks

Many thanks to Net Galley, Text Publishing and Catherine Jinks for a chance to review this book.

It is such a terrible shame that I couldn’t get to this book sooner coz of various reasons, major fact being that I had missed watching out for its archive date, but as they say, better late than never, right?? I downloaded Shepherd from net galley coz of its cover. It had such a menacing feel to it that I really wanted to check it out and boy, am I glad. Shepherd by Catherine Jinks is one of those books that makes your heart pound inside your mouth. The tension keeps mounting until one can’t even take a choppy breath without knowing the end.

Tom Clay and Rowdy Cavanagh are on the run for their lives. In a terrain that doesn’t provide any leeway, the bushes and forests resisting them at every turn it is only Tom’s poaching and tracking skills that keeps them alive.  It is 1840, and colonial Australia is a place that no man wants to be but it is where Tom and other misfits have been sentenced to. Being farmhands and shepherds is the work they are forced into, but survival is tough for these thieves and outcasts as even the blacks resist the invasion of their homeland. Tom all of 13 years was caught poaching and sentenced to jail from where he was transported to New South Wales and made to work for Mr. Barrett. He is a lonely soul who has been abused by his father and taught the value of silence so he trusts his animals more than fellow humans.

But Tom, Rowdy and Joe’s life becomes a living nightmare when Dan Carver, a black guard villain who relishes murder and torture returns to kill them all, the bloodbath that follows and the struggle to outwit Carver and his cohorts was conveyed so brilliantly. The action is tight and gripping and one can’t help but feel for Tom for his innate sense of love, his dogs Gyp and Pedlar. It is so lovely that even the chickens have been given names and cared for by Tom.

The relationship between Tom and Rowdy and the trusts that grows between them was beautiful and as such even more heart breaking for its climax.

Recommended for all fans of action thrillers. Awesome!

Blurb

My father trained me to silence the way he trained his dogs, with food and a cane. Speech, he said, was poison. It scared the game, alerted the gamekeepers and betrayed your friends and family.

Tom Clay was a poacher back in Suffolk. He was twelve when he was caught, tried and transported to New South Wales.

Now, assigned to a shepherds’ hut out west, he is a boy among violent men. He keeps his counsel and watches over his sheep; he steers clear of blowhards like the new man, Rowdy Cavanagh. He is alert to danger, knowing he is a foreigner here: that the land resists his understanding.

The question is: how fast can he learn?

Because a vicious killer named Dan Carver is coming for Tom and Rowdy. And if Tom can’t outwit Carver in the bush – and convince Rowdy to keep his stupid mouth shut – their deaths will be swift and cruel.

This riveting, fast-paced new novel from the multi-award-winning Catherine Jinks brings the brutality and courage of Australia’s colonial frontier vividly to life – and sees one of our master storytellers at the peak of her powers.

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