by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)
One of my favorite things about Harper's work is her ability to write the setting of the story as an almost main protagonist in the story. Every book I have read of Harper's has had a strong atmospheric tone throughout the whole book. The Survivors is no different.
Harper establishes the setting on the Tasmanian coast in the first few chapters of the book. The story is told through the eyes of Kieran Elliot, a local who has moved away and is back with his partner, Mia, and his daughter to visit his parents on the Tasmanian coast. While his family is visiting, a young woman, Bronte, who is summering in Tasmania and working at a local restaurant, is found dead on the shore. In the wake of Bronte's death, the small seaside town is reeling. In addition, her death brings memories of several deaths that occurred many years prior. Kieran and his group of friends who remained in town after these deaths are left reeling. Questions about Bronte's death and about what happened years in the past are dredged up. No one is ruled out as a suspect.
As I was reading this book, I found myself in awe of Harper's ability to create an atmosphere and to create realistic dynamics around a group of friends who were once close, but—due to life and circumstance—have grown apart. The Survivors is a slow burn. It is a mystery, but also an examination of relationships. If this is something you like in your reading, you will love this book. If you are looking for a plot-driven page turner, this may not be your book.
What is indisputable is Harper's gifts as a writer and her ability to create a dynamic setting with well-drawn, complex characters. I liked The Survivors, and I am happy I read it. I did enjoy Harper's previous book, The Dry, a bit more. I will no doubt continue to be a fan of Harper and continue to read her work.
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