Review: Snake Island by Ben Hobson

 

Title: Snake Island

Author: Ben Hobson

Published: August 5th 2019, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read August 2019, courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

Snake Island by Ben Hobson is powerful tale of patrimony, regret, vengeance, and tragedy.

For two years Vernon Moore, and his wife, have refused to acknowledge their son, Caleb, who is serving time in a nearby minimum security prison, firm in their belief that he should serve his sentence for a vicious domestic assault without clemency. Yet when Vernon learns that his son is being victimised by a local thug, Brendan Cahill, given free rein to regularly bash Caleb by a corrupt prison warden, he realises his error and is determined to put an end to the attacks. Vernon knows that appealing to the local police for help would be futile, the Cahills’s pay Sargeant Sharon Wornkin well to ignore their transgressions, which includes a large scale operation growing and selling marijuana, but he hopes that an appeal to Cahill patriarch Ernie, one father to another, will save his boy. Instead, Moore unwittingly ignites a feud that threatens to destroy them all.

Unfolding primarily from the perspectives of Vernon, Sharon, and the youngest Cahill son, Sidney, I was riveted by this low key, gritty rural thriller as events spiralled out of control.

“A cornered rat used what teeth it had.”

The characters, and their relationships, are realistically crafted with a skilful complexity. Few are likeable, all are deeply flawed, but none (well almost) are entirely irredeemable. I had sympathy for Vernon and Sidney, despite the mistakes they made, but I had very little for Sharon, whose lack of integrity I found difficult to forgive.

“You keep giving up parts of yourself, you end up as far down the track as it’ll take you.”

Hobson explores several themes in Snake Island. I thought one of the most important was the notion of loyalty, to whom it may be owed, and where it’s limit may lie, and each of the characters wrestle with these questions. Another is the legacy of violence, whether from the experience of domestic abuse or war, and how it affects who someone becomes, as a father, as a son, as a wife, as a person. Also thoughtfully examined are themes of family, justice, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

“Vernon looked at his son. Understood deeply now what he had given up. Knew, too, he wasn’t willing to give up anymore.”

A vivid and thought provoking novel, I was gripped by Snake Island from the first line, to the last word.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Veronica The Burgeoning Bookshelf
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 22:10:57

    Sounds good. I’m glad you liked it as I have this to read soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Helen Murdoch
    Aug 07, 2019 @ 01:02:07

    Loyalty and a legacy of violence are two important and super interesting themes.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Vicki
    Aug 07, 2019 @ 01:12:54

    I love books about families and this sounds really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Tracey (Carpe Librum blog)
    Aug 11, 2019 @ 00:55:04

    Great review, I loved this too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundaySalon #SundayPost | book'd out

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