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The Crack Magazine

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Salt & Skin by Eliza Henry-Jones

Eliza Henry-Jones is an Australian author who has won armfuls of awards for novels such as ‘In the Quiet’, ‘P is for Pearl’ and ‘How to Grow a Family Tree’. Her latest begins on the front-front with an arresting a chapter as I’ve read this year. Luda, a photographer, and her two teenage children are on a boat on the final leg of their journey from Australia to the Scottish Northern Isles. They are hoping to make a new life for themselves. When Luda sees a mother on the beach playing with her young child, she is so charmed by the scene that she whips out her camera and begins to take a few shots. Something then happens which shocks them all. When they do finally get ensconced in their new home – which everyone calls “The Ghost House” – they discover it’s a rather ramshackle abode covered in witches’ marks. If that set-up makes you think we’re in Scooby Doo territory then fret not. The book is a sober and incredibly atmospheric tale that touches on all manner of topics. (Luda herself is renowned for her work in ecological matters and so those play an important part in the narrative.) But we also go deep into the current literary hot-topic of ‘witch lit’ (or feminism as filtered through some decidedly witchy goings-on). I’ve deliberately not lifted the lid on the plot too much here because this is a book worth going into blind. Let it cast its spell and you’ll soon be ensnared. RM

September Publishing