Mark Brandi, bestselling author of Wimmera and The Rip, has written an unforgettable new novel that explores the darkness in our world with the light only a child can find.
On his eleventh birthday, Jacob’s father gives him a diary. To write about things that happen. About what he and his father do on their farm. About the sheep, the crop, the fox and the dam. But Jacob knows some things should not be written down. Some things should not be remembered.
The only things he knows for sure are what his father has taught him, in his sheltered, protected and isolated existence. But who is his father protecting him from? And how far will his father go to keep the world at bay? All too soon, Jacob will learn that sometimes people do the most terrible things.
Mark Brandi’s talent for writing haunting, evocative crime fiction has been firmly established since Wimmera won the British Crime Writer’s Association Debut Dagger award, and the 2018 Indie Book Award for debut fiction. His latest novel, The Others, takes a remarkably new direction with Brandi embodying the innocent voice of an eleven-year-old boy.
The narrative is told through diary entries written by Jacob, who knows very little about the harsh world around him. He learns some things from an encyclopedia, and copies drawings into his diary, which are included in The Others. Jacob’s innocent outlook is often heartbreaking, and allusions to abuse at the hands of his father make for an at times uncomfortable read.
The setting of The Others is intentionally vague. The only indications that Jacob and his father’s remote farmhouse is in Australia include sightings of dingoes and cockatoos, and the old copy of Women’s Weekly that Jacob’s mother left lying around. In a very contemporary move, the novel seems to take place in a post-Covid world: Jacob knows about the plague which struck many in the years before he was born, and of which his father is still fearful. This is one of the reasons his father avoids ‘the others’ in town.
Details are slowly revealed to Jacob, and the reader, throughout The Others. Brandi is skilled at turning a slow burn into a gripping read, and you’ll find yourself trying to piece together the puzzle alongside Jacob—right until the end. This book deftly touches upon the aftermath of the pandemic on society, the impact of mental illness on individuals and families, and the innocence of children, both gained and lost. The Others is a timely tale, from the unique perspective of a child, that is as intriguing as it is heartrending.