by Patricia Holland
… contemporary Australian fiction
Everyone controls Sophie. She can’t walk and she can’t talk, but behind her disability hides a keen intelligence. Living on The Styx River cattle station with her father and a nanny, Sophie is acutely aware that she is a non-person. She feels as voiceless and isolated as the wallabies of The Wall, an eerie wilderness of basalt lava tubes forming a natural stone labyrinth that protects its remote lushness from anyone foolish enough to wander in.
Sophie’s mother Rose, as indigenous custodian, would take the young Sophie into the labyrinth and teach her its secrets. When a bitter divorce forces Rose to leave, Sophie is powerless to stop her grazier father from taking custody of both Sophie and The Wall.
Advances in computer technology enable Sophie to communicate, a fact she keeps secret from her father and his “cronies”. In Sophie’s presence, unaware she understands everything, they plot to build a multi-million dollar tourist resort in The Wall. The development will only go ahead if the rare wallabies are already extinct, so they hire roo shooters to help nature along.
In desperation Sophie writes Silent Scream, an anonymous blog that reveals the plot. When an environmental study team commissioned to find the wallabies goes missing, the rescuers appeal to Silent Scream for help. Raising awareness is one thing, but how can one impossibly disabled girl who can’t help herself, help save the lives of others?
Available now – published by Lacuna Publishing.
Available at bookshops soon.
Featured Blog Post
- The Styx definitions (in order of preference):
Styx [Pron: stiks] [Alt sp: stix, sticks]
Styx: goddess of the river. Goddess Styx has miraculous powers to make someone invulnerable.
Styx: referred to in The Divine Comedy, a long narrative poem by Dante Alighieri (begun c1308, completed 1320.) Translated into English by Dorothy L Sayers, don’t you know. (Other scholars wrote other translations, but most were men, I think.)
Styx River: Three Australian wilderness rivers. Extreme tidal river Styx runs through Ogmore, 155km north of Rockhampton. Another Styx River runs east of Armidale in the Northern Tablelands, New South Wales. And yet another runs through southern Tasmania. All three wilderness areas share an ethereal, eerie quality.
The Styx/Sticks: a remote place out bush, esp in Australia.