23 May 2024

Review: To the River by Vikki Wakefield

To the River by Vikki Wakefield book cover

* Copy courtesy of Text Publishing *

It's been a while since the last time I found myself totally gripped by a psychological thriller written by an Australian, but To the River by Vikki Wakefield was a blast.

Growing up in a caravan park, Sabine Kelly has been in hiding since the age of 17 when her mother and younger sister were killed in a fire. Accused of being responsible for lighting the fire that led to their deaths, Sabine escaped custody and hasn't been seen since.

Rachel Weirdermann is a recently divorced journalist living in a swanky house on the river and has been investigating the caravan murders for the past 12 years. The narrative kicks off when Rachel believes she sees Sabine in the local area, fuelling hopes of bringing her in and telling the story of the decade.

A fugitive for 12 years, Sabine has had plenty of time to reflect on being blamed for the death of her sister and mother:
"A reputation is a strange thing, Sabine thought. It can grow without you feeding it. You will shrink to fit it. It allows you access to some places, keeps you out of others. It will define you if you let it, and there's no control, no second chances, no escape." Page 189
I enjoyed the distinctly Australian setting on the river of the title and it brought to mind many scenes from my childhood spent on or near the Darling River in NSW.

The local community believe Sabine is guilty, but Rachel starts to entertain the distant possibility there may be more to her story:
"Where the media saw a lack of grief and remorse, Rachel had kept her mind open. Lindy Chamberlain, Joanne Lees, Kate McCann - all women who were judged for not responding the way society believed they should, women who were condemned because they did not share their trauma and grief with the world." Page 251
This is so true and I appreciated the references to Joanne Lees and Lindy Chamberlain in particular here, adding to Rachel's journalistic experience.

Living on her own for years, Sabine has severe trust issues and a soft spot for a loyal companion in a blue heeler aptly named Blue. I'm not often moved by dogs in books but Blue significantly added to the character development of Rachel and Sabine and aided in moving the plot forward in a refreshing way. Big tick!

To the River by Vikki Wakefield includes themes of domestic violence, poverty, corruption, fear, trust and loyalty and sets a cracking pace. If you enjoy Australian crime or find yourself in the mood for a psychological thriller, then I highly recommend To the River by Vikki Wakefield. It's a cracking read!

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. I’m so glad you loved this Tracey. I purchased it recently purely on the fact I’ve enjoyed this author before. I’m looking forward to a great read.

    1. Thanks Veronica, I haven't read anything by this author before but you can absolutely look forward to this with confidence, definitely money well spent. I think you'll enjoy it.


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