REVIEW: The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis

Published: 2nd July 2019

Publisher: Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia

Pages:329

Format: paperback (courtesy of the publisher for review)

RRP: $32.99

When aspiring actress Charlie Carver learns that her cousin Annabelle has died, she immediately leaves Melbourne to fly home to the remote family roadhouse east of Alice Springs. It has been years since her last visit and her relationship with her mother, Molly, is strained but Charlie is determined to patch up their differences.

The reunion, however, is interrupted when Molly suffers a heart attack. With her mother airlifted out for life-saving surgery, Charlie is left to take the reins of the struggling family business, alongside friends old and new, including the captivating local stockman Mike.

The authorities declare Annabelle to have taken her own life, but when a woman’s body turns up at an abandoned mine site, Charlie begins to wonder what else is being covered up, and why.

Beginning a search for the truth, a perilous bush chase unfolds that threatens her own life, causing Charlie to wonder whether she ever knew Annabelle at all …

From the bestselling author of The Heartwood Hotel comes the suspenseful new outback mystery from Australia’s authentic rural writer and beloved voice of the bush.

The Roadhouseby Kerry McGinnis was a book that surprised me. I’ve read a few of Kerry McGinnis’ backlist by now, and I naively thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this novel. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There is a lot to unpack in McGinnis’ 2019 new release, The Roadhouse. I could seriously talk your ear off about: how expert the writing is; how full of life and delightfully flawed her characters are; how familiar and foreign the isolated setting is; and how bloody Australian the book is.  I couldn’t get enough of any of it as I raced through the books 329 pages, anxiously trying to guess outcomes and wishing for a Happily Ever After (HEA) for poor Charlie.

When The Roadhouse opened, I didn’t know what to expect from the narrative. The blurb seemed to promise mystery, intrigue, family drama and a strong crime thread, and while it delivered all of that in spades, it took me a couple of chapters to find myself absorbed in the story. Once I did however, I raced through that book in no time flat.

Despite not instantly loving the book’s opening, I was drawn to Charlie’s character. I liked her humour and outlook on life. The way she wasn’t afraid to admit life’s hard truths, even when they cost her greatly. I found her view of Annabelle hard to process initially, but once past wrongs have been revealed, her character made a whole lot more of sense.

The Roadhouse might be set in a small country town, isolated and so far removed to the everyday lives of most readers, but the story and characters are so Australian that its hard to not instantly recognise similar people, settings and small-town dynamics.  There’s a great sense of atmosphere and space within the novel, that leaves you wishing for more … more story, more land, more freedom.

During my uni days, lecturers spoke at great length about how Australian authors are able to capture the beauty and harsh reality of the outback, land and Australian townships to such an extent that the very landscape (social and physical) becomes a character within the book. That is certainly the case with The Roadhouse.

I want to give a warning of sorts here. Molly (Charlie’s Mum), has a heart condition in this book, and she is rushed off to the hospital for open-heart surgery by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. As someone who has seen a loved one go through something similar, this was particularly hard to read and it brought back a lot of unwelcome memories. While McGinnis deals with this aspect largely off the page, and with great respect to the characters remaining present in the story, it might still be too much for some. I know I can’t hand this book over to my loved one to read because of this aspect, no matter how well treated it was within the narrative. So it’s something to keep in mind.

The Roadhouse is a delightfully surprisingly novel. Full of character, heart, mystery and intrigue you never know who to trust, where to look, or what’s coming next and it really is a fantastic novel to lose yourself in this winter.

TO PURCHASE A COPY OF THE ROADHOUSE, VISIT THE FOLLOWING ONLINE RETAILERS:

PENGUIN BOOKS AUSTRALIA | AMAZON AUS | AMAZON US | ANGUS & ROBERTSON | BOOKTOPIA | BOOK DEPOSITORY |  QBD

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT KERRY MCGINNIS, VISIT THE FOLLOWING SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES:

PENGUIN BOOKS AUSTRALIA | GOODREADS | 

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LOVE BETWEEN THE PAGES BOOKCLUB, VISIT PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AUSTRALIA’S WEBSITE OR FACEBOOK PAGE. 

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