Aussie Book Review: Cicada by Moira McKinnon

CicadaCicada by Moira McKinnon


Review copy provided by publisher

Allen and Unwin, March 2014

Synopsis- A stunning novel of terror, love and survival in the greatest wilderness on earth. A lyrical, heartbreaking epic debut.

An isolated property in the middle of Western Australia, just after the Great War. An English heiress has just given birth and unleashed hell. Weakened and grieving, she realises her life is in danger, and flees into the desert with her Aboriginal maid. One of them is running from a murderer; the other is accused of murder.

Soon the women are being hunted across the Kimberley by troopers, trackers and the man who wants to silence them both. How they survive in the searing desert and what happens when they are finally found will take your breath away.

Review- Moira McKinnon’s debut novel Cicada is an impressive narrative of friendship and survival in early Australia. Set in outback Western Australia, Emily births to baby of Aboriginal heritage, much to the shame of her English husband William. He destroys any ties she may have with the baby and the biological father which propels Emily to go on the run with her Aboriginal maid Wirritjil.

They speak a different language, they live by different rules but Emily and Wirritjil connect through their shared goal to survive and to break free of the hold of their Master. The story follows Emily and Wirritjil’s escape through Australia’s harsh bushland; in which Emily learns to trust Wirritjil and the land in which she walks on. The viewpoints alternate between Emily and her husband William provide contrasting ideas about the values and rights of all human beings.

Cicada is written in a uniquely lyrical style with the voice of Aboriginal culture, heritage and values bouncing of the pages. It was written in a way that reminded me of Aboriginal dreamtime stories and the way in which they have a magical feel while exploring serious grave and terrifying issues.

It’s a reminder of our very recent history of war on Australian soil and we see in the character of Wirritjil, despite the hardships her wisdom and loyalty shine through on every page.

I became completely immersed in this story and in some ways it’s hard to even describe, but it’s a very well written story that is well worth reading.

Overall Rating


“I loved this book!”

Cicada can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2014 challenge:




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