Closing Down  May 25, 2017 – Posted in: Review – Tags: ,

By local reviewer, Pam

Winner of the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers 2105

A first novel by Melbourne author Sally Abbot, former journalist and PR director.

Closing Down begins with Robbie as a young boy and the screaming of his horse which has it’s leg broken when ridden by his drunk father. The first hint of horror, things not balanced.

Clare is a watchful, thoughtful rural Australian woman for whom nothing in life has been easy. A lost pregnancy, an alcoholic husband and now her rented ramshackle home is being taken away from her. Clare witnesses inexplicable things during her solitary nocturnal walks. People walking north under cover of darkness, hiding from the authorities as they seek an alternative to the compulsory closing down of towns and removal to already overcrowded cities. The spirits of the past are disturbed by what is happening in the world. It is being turned upside down, bones long buried are falling from the sky.

The government calls it ERA- Energising Rural Australia but really it stands for Euthanizing Rural Australia. 1600 rural towns are being gutted, agricultural land sold to Asia.  Part of the NT is annexed for The Great Southern Pacific Refugee Station. Suicide rates are high. A grim picture is painted.

Robbie is a young journalist who writes about government controlled actions and cops many fines and warnings for these. His partner Ella is equally disturbed by how their world is changing. Robbie’s grandmother lives near Clare and feeds roving animals under cover of darkness. She also helps the poor, supplies meals and clothes to the needy. The reader gets the impression that she has some sort of spiritual powers. During one of these nights Clare meets her and is pressed to come and work as a cook and assistant. This is life changing for Clare, giving her stability and purpose.

The characters are complex, I enjoyed this novel very much though it is hard to decide whether it is meant to be futuristic or fantasy. Witchcraft is hinted at. It is intriguing but not resolved.

Available at Books of Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. Use Click and collect to have it put on hold for you