For readers of Station Eleven and Everything I Never Told You, a debut novel set on the brink of catastrophe, as a young woman chases the world’s last birds – and her own final chance for redemption.
A dark past. An impossible journey. The will to survive.
How far you would you go for love? Franny Stone is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica.
As animal populations plummet and commercial fishing faces prohibition, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny’s life begin to unspool. A daughter’s yearning search for her mother. An impulsive, passionate marriage. A shocking crime. Haunted by love and violence, Franny must confront what she is really running towards – and from.
The Last Migration is a wild, gripping and deeply moving novel from a brilliant young writer. From the west coast of Ireland to Australia and remote Greenland, through crashing Atlantic swells to the bottom of the world, this is an ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened, and an epic story of the possibility of hope against all odds.
Read some 5 star reviews from our Preview readers here:
This book is heartbreakingly beautiful in its depiction of Franny. She is strong and yet fragile. She is courageous and yet so scared of life. And as the book progresses it is hard not to feel for her and her journey. Franny’s life is expertly pieced together, filled with happiness and tragedy, and you find yourself on the emotional roller-coaster with her. The themes of love, loss, and family are interwoven throughout Franny’s story, and the storytelling is honest and raw. – Ammie, NSW, 5 Stars
A moody, thought-provoking read about the potential future of our world which left me wanting more and at the same time left me thinking how I sit in relation to the impact of climate change and human relationships. The author sets an atmosphere that is equally a beautiful, gut-wrenchingly, what the hell love story and a quest through unchartered waters. You will love and question each and every character in this journey, which is very special for me, as a reader, who often forgets and leaves behind some people in a book. This is a perfect read for lovers of our natural world, feisty characters, the quirkiness of humans and a just-right blend of love and mystery. Can’t wait to read the next offering from this author. – Sharon, QLD, 5 Stars
Challenging. Thought-provoking. Sad. Inspiring. Confronting. All words that can describe The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy. But in spite of those words conjuring up a book that is dark and difficult to read, it is quite the opposite. It is not a light-hearted read, but one that tells the tale of a woman trying to find her way in an increasingly harsh world, where living creatures are becoming extinct due to the manner in which humans are treating the planet and the environment. While the main character, Franny, is flawed and troubled, her tale, in the end, is one of hope. The traumas she has experienced throughout her life are drip-fed to readers, creating an aura of mystery around her, but the conclusion ties up all the ends of Franny’s story and leaves the reader with a positive and hopeful feeling. With the focus today on the environment and climate change, this story paints a bleak picture of what our world could look like if we don’t start protecting the planet and caring for all its creatures. I’d like to think it won’t turn out like in the book, but sadly I fear that it is all too real. This was a great book, and certainly, worth the read, however unsettling parts of it may be. – Christine, QLD, 5 Stars
A dire near future, a world of mass extinctions, oceans almost empty of fish: Franny Lynch boards a fishing vessel in Tasiilaq to follow her tagged bird, one of perhaps the very last Arctic terns, on its long migration south. Under harsh conditions of extreme cold, wild storms and a tense relationship with the crew who seem to barely tolerate her, Franny’s mind cannot avoid forays into her troubled past: parental abandonment, a fervent love, heart-breaking tragedies, grief and incarceration. The reason for her quest, when ultimately revealed, cannot fail to move the reader to tears. Gorgeous prose, marvellous characters, some extremely topical subject matter, plenty of emotion and a smidgen of hope make this a brilliant read. – Marianne, NSW, 5 Stars
McConaghy is an incredibly powerful storyteller. The Last Migration is gripping, moving and I feel forever changed by this story – many tears were shed! It is so meticulously woven, just when you think you know where it’s going you realise you have no idea. So full of heartache, loss but most importantly love. If you read nothing else this year, read The Last Migration. – Alexandra, NSW, 5 Stars
The Last Migration is a hauntingly, achingly beautiful novel. Hopeful and heart wrenching all at once, a book that will stay with me for a very long time, and should make us all question the human impact on the earth and its wild creatures. Definitely a book that should be introduced to all high school children. – Rachel, QLD, 5 Stars
This is not a happy story, but it is powerful and beautifully told. Franny is on a mission to follow the Arctic Terns on their migration to Antarctica and she joins the crew of a fishing boat to follow her dream. As the story unfolds we catch glimpses of Franny’s past and begin to discover who she is. She holds everything close to her chest and harbours secrets she cannot share. She is rough and tough as was the voyage on the boat. I felt like I was travelling along with her and willing her mission to be a success. At the same time, I wanted to help her and urge her not to give up on herself. – Christina, NSW, 5 Stars
What an extraordinary book. Set at a time in the not too distant future, it is heart-wrenching to think this is probably predictive rather than fantastical. Exploring the subjects of the natural world and man’s effect, love, anxiety and passion, this book ticks all the boxes of a novel that will be talked about for a long time. Loved it. – Ros, ACT, 5 Stars
This was a beautifully written and powerfully emotive novel for me. This was another of the rare type of book which really makes me slow down and absorb every word of. There were some really beautiful passages that spoke of the plight of our environment and the part we as humans have played in its destruction. It is set in a time that might not be far off if the world continues the way it has. It is a story of deep love, hope, grief, despair, of unspeakable loss and of searching for that elusive thing. The story is about Franny Stone, she is lost and broken and separated from the love of her life Niall. She is on a mission, to follow the last of the Arctic Terns on what may be their last migration. The story jumps from the here and now to moments in the past, We uncover the love story between Niall and Franny, a deep, deep love, but one with flaws and heartbreak, we uncover the story of Franny’s past and we learn of the extinction of just about every animal, bird and fish species on the planet. I loved this novel, and it touched me deeply and had some important messages contained within. – Claire, WA, 5 Stars
The Last Migration is a feast for the senses and emotions with human and animal exhaustion and relief palpable at times. Hope and love are always there if we don’t give up. If you enjoy being at sea in all weathers, you will love this book. It’s a wild salty and cold ride at times, with difficult decisions to be made. The human journey and that of the Arctic Tern are juxtaposed against each other beautifully as the journey is made to follow the birds. The frailty of human and animal life is evident and has us dwell on mortality and extinction. If we are to survive and thrive, we must each lean on the other in a crisis. The characters feel like people we’ve met, my favourite is Captain Ennis who is a skilled sailor, deep in thought and short on words. The relationships Franny forms this disparate group is amazing and heart-warming right to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a little about the approach to helping endangered species along the way. – Margaret, NSW, 5 Stars
From the first page, I was hooked! This book is exquisite, beautifully worded and so compelling. It jumps back and forward in time to tell the story of Franny Stone as she follows what might be the Arctic Terns very last migration. It’s a story that spans generations and the notions of loss, love, extinction, redemption and our own paths that we alone must walk. – Leigh, VIC, 5 Stars
‘The animals are dying. Soon we will be alone here.’ Franny Stone desperately wants to follow the Arctic terns on what is likely to be their last migration to Antarctica. The terns are teetering on the brink of extinction because of climate change. Franny managed to secure a berth on one of the last ships heading south from Greenland. As we travel south, Franny’s story unfolds over different timelines. She is a restless soul, in search of answers, meaning and redemption. She is erratic and unpredictable, drawn to the sea. We will gradually learn what Franny is running from and what she is looking for. ‘My life has been a migration without a destination, and that in itself is senseless.’ I picked this novel up and became spellbound. I wanted to know more about Franny and her past, I wanted to understand the why and the what. This is a sad story, but it is so beautifully told that I could lose myself in some passages before being buffeted by others. Is it possible for Franny to find peace? Is it possible for the world to survive our depredations? I wonder. – Jennifer, ACT, 5 Stars
Set in a future time of mass wildlife extinction, Franny Stone is studying what could be The Last Migration of the Arctic tern, a remarkable bird which in its lifetime could travel the equivalent distance of three times to the moon and back. Franny is as deep and complex a character as the ocean she is drawn to, and as wild and wandering as the species she studies. Catherine McConaghy has constructed a haunting tale of contrasts which is as breathtakingly beguiling as it is brutal and melancholy. A meditation on death and destruction but also on what it means to be truly alive; a study of a remarkable person who cannot be tied down but who simultaneously has a desperate yearning for belonging and family. This is a novel which will get deep into your bones as you plumb the depths of Franny Stone’s soul and her life story which like the iceberg ‘the bulk of it extends much deeper into the sea’. A thought-provoking and deeply moving novel which will make you appreciate more, the preciousness of life, love, and our beautiful fragile planet. – Michelle, VIC, 5 Stars
This book captured my interest from the get-go. I huddled into my nice warm blanket against the cold of the ocean, I could feel the rocking of the boat and felt claustrophobic at the close quarters of the boat on which Franny travels. I felt Lea’s disdain and Basil’s interest in Franny. I imagined Ennis as a kind but the authoritative captain of his boat and marvelled at the softer side of him. To undertake a possibly unproductive journey one has to have passion and Franny certainly had this. Ennis kept Franny’s character steady and kept drawing me further into the plot. Thought-provoking when talking about the extinction of certain species of animals – how far in the future was this set? However, it felt as it was written for the present. I did really enjoy this book and read it as soon as it arrived, stopping only for physical sustenance! – Denise, NSW, 5 Stars
The Last Migration is a captivating novel set in a scarily plausible future where most species have been destroyed by climate change. Driving the novel is Franny and her quest to follow a flock of birds along their final migration. The novel is beautifully written and the pacing is just right, with information revealed slowly. Every few chapters reveal a new layer to the story and to Franny. An excellent book! – Laura, VIC, 5 Stars
A breathtaking debut that switches viewpoints between the past and the present, leading to a stunning conclusion that made me cry. Filled with love and friendships that were beautiful and touching, and the horror of all animal life facing imminent extinction, to the heart wrenching reveals of the protagonists past. This novel really epitomizes the fact that it’s not the destination that matters but the journey towards it. Franny’s journey and life are epic and heroic, kept me on the edge of my seat and I loved every minute of it!! Awesome storytelling. – Kristy, NSW, 5 Stars