Preview Reviews: The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

Preview Reviews: The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

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 our Preview reviewer thoughts 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

The Last Migration is an intriguing mix of past and present. Eagerly urging you on to discover the secrets of both. Franny has a haunting darkness to her soul that stays with you after you finish reading. The novel is set in possibly the not too distant future if the world keeps following the same path, a timely reminder of climate change and the consequences. – Danielle, VIC, 4 Stars

Fanny Stone, from Galway in Ireland, is such a sad character who is on a mission to track what is likely to be the last migration of the Arctic Terns. She manages to convince Ennis Malone, the captain of a fishing ship to let her go with them as the tracking of the birds may lead to a haul of fish. It will likely be the last haul as all animals are now extinct and there is little to no fish left in the seas. The book is told in alternating timelines, with clear headings as to where the story is, this works well as you learn about Fanny and her past and present life. Be warned this is not a feel-good book it is heart-wrenching and sad so have the tissues at hand. The Last Migration also gives an insight and a haunting portrayal of what the future may be as the world is devastated by climate change. – Karyn, ACT, 4 Stars

The Last Migration was a very different book to what I expected. My heart nearly broke for the main character you could feel her pain and confusion all through the book, there were so many unexpected twists and turns that I really had no idea how the story was going to end until the last chapter. I didn’t think it was my type of story to start with but as I read on I couldn’t put it down. It certainly wasn’t a happy book but it got me in and I thoroughly enjoyed it. – Michelle, VIC, 4 Stars

Charlotte McConaghy can create pictures. She has an ability to paint wild places, both of the environment and the twisted mind of the main character, Franny. She takes the reader on a journey, but not a light-hearted holiday, this novel takes a tortured race through a dying world. It is clear from the beginning that the wild animals of the world are dying out. Mass extinctions have occurred and the wild places are left quiet. The scientific world looks on in despair trying to save the last few. Franny convinces the owner of one of the last fishing vessels to take her on a journey to follow three migratory birds from the Arctic Circle to the freezing waters of Antarctica. As the boat progresses so does the tale of Franny’s life, dipping back in time but never losing the thread. McConaghy slips in pieces of the puzzle almost gently through the book to reveal a tortured soul, a wild spirit that cannot be tamed. She carefully builds a feeling of panic and foreboding in Franny and in the reader too. For a debut novel, McConaghy has done very well. She manages to describe devastation and chaos yet at the same time hold a flickering candle of hope. – Heather, NSW, 4 Stars

The Last Migration was a most unique heart-wrenching story of loss and grief. Our protagonist is Franny Stone. The animal world is dying, facing mass extinction. Wild animal populations are plummeting, there are no more monkeys in the wild, the big cats of the savannahs are gone, no bears in the once frozen north and barely any fish in the ocean. Global warming has wiped out almost all wild animal food and habitat. Franny is a struggling and damaged soul with an intense love of the ocean and she hides a dark secret. Franny convinces Ennis Malone the captain of a fishing vessel called the Saghani to let her on board, offering to work for free. It’s there we find her on a mission to Antarctica to follow the world’s last Arctic terns to what may be their final migration. The voyage is filled with difficulties and danger. This is a beautifully written book, truly fascinating but also a sad tale of hopelessness. – Gloria, SA, 4 Stars

The Last Migration is the story of Franny Stone and her determination to follow the last flock of Arctic Terns on their final migration from Greenland to Antarctica. Set in the “near” future, the world is in an extinction crisis with the world’s wildlife fast disappearing due to global warming. It moves between the present and the past and all around the world, each change of time and location revealing more of Franny’s secrets. Throughout the book, I hated Franny, then loved her, then hated her again. She is both infuriating and inspiring. A very complex character. This book has everything. Heartbreak, hope, family, romance, science and wildlife. And it will also make you think about the earth’s mortality and your own quest for what you love and believe in. – Michelle, QLD, 4 Stars

Wasn’t the best book I’ve read but I still enjoyed it. It was a bit of a slow burn. I enjoyed the way the story developed with flashbacks throughout. It was thought-provoking to think about what could happen to our wildlife. – Kay, QLD, 4 Stars

Thank you for allowing me to review this book. I really enjoyed it and the ideas were certainly new, fresh and different with the theme surrounding the arctic terns. It is a very captivating read. I found myself intrigued the whole way through. It is quite heart-wrenching and the book does go back and forth a lot but by the end, we come to realise what has shaped Franny and why she is the way she is. I would recommend this book and look forward to reading more from this author. – Danielle, VIC, 4 Stars

There are so many words to describe this book – dark, moving, and poignant is perhaps the most prominent. This is a story about adventure, loss and the courage to endure. Franny is fierce and fragile in equal parts – I loved her as a character. More broadly though, the characters are well-crafted, and the story is emotional, detailed and interesting. I enjoyed this book, and will certainly be reading it again! – Laura, SA, 4 Stars

The Last Migration was beautifully written. After reading certain paragraphs, I found myself deeply thinking about the future extinction of animal species. – Kelly, QLD, 4 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for the chance to read The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy – brilliant, heart wrenching, beautifully written – simply a must-read, this book will not disappoint and I found it a perfect read at this particular point in time. Something to think about. A wonderful journey that will not leave you well after you have finished reading. – Debbie, VIC, 4 Stars

Like the lone grey wolf or the Arctic tern, Franny exists in a world where there is no clear choice or certainty about the best way to survive. We don’t know why or what she is fleeing but there is an intense foreboding, like an undercurrent through this novel. Her intense destructive personality and complete disregard for her own safety collides and then joins force with Ennis, a seafaring captain. This book is an intense and passionate examination of love for the planet and our human nature to self destruct. – Tundra, ACT, 4 Stars

I really wanted to like this book, but I found myself struggling to connect with the story and the characters. Franny was a character that frustrated me to no end and not in a way that I wanted to keep reading to see where she ended up in life. I can see the overall structure of the storyline and think it is solidly thought out, but the way it was built upon is what I think I struggled with. I found some parts lacking depth yet at times I was like, yep there it is, then on the next page it was gone. I will be interested to see what others thought of it. – Mel, NSW, 3 Stars

The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy is well written and poses many questions we are confronted with today, especially climate change and species extinction. The story in a roundabout way is the life story of Franny Stone who in studying the Arctic tern follows their migration for what is possibly the last time. I found the book difficult to read. The book moves from the present to the past, and I found it difficult to keep all the plot threads in place. The book takes time to read as the structure is used to provide all the information for the reader. I did not enjoy reading this book as much as I had anticipated. – Anne, NSW, 2 Stars

Reviews

The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy is One of the Best Books of the Year

Review | Our Review

18 August 2020

The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy is One of the Best Books of the Year

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    Review | Extract

    18 August 2020

    Take a Sneak Peek at Charlotte McConaghy's Haunting Novel, The Last Migration

      The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy: Your Preview Verdict

      Review | News | Preview

      12 August 2020

      The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy: Your Preview Verdict

        Better Reading Preview: The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

        Review | Preview

        30 June 2020

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            Publisher details

            Migrations
            Author
            Charlotte McConaghy
            Publisher
            Penguin
            Genre
            Fiction
            Released
            30 March, 2021
            ISBN
            9781760893323

            Synopsis

            or 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 would you 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. Previously published as The Last Migration, this 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.
            Charlotte McConaghy
            About the author

            Charlotte McConaghy

            Charlotte McConaghy has been writing from a young age. She has both a Graduate Degree in Screenwriting and a Masters Degree in Screen Arts, and has worked in script development for film and television for several years. She has written a number of speculative fiction books but The Last Migration is her first literary novel. She lives in Sydney.

            Books by Charlotte McConaghy

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