In the unrelenting heat of drought-stricken outback Queensland something terrible has happened, and 16-year-old Cynthia is left on her own. This is not a story about a helpless girl though, and Cynthia is not a hapless victim of the cruelty of others.
Proper mental health care can be very hard to access for people living in regional and remote Australia, and stigmatisation is rife.
Compounding this is one of the most toxic elements of small town life - the rumour mill. If you've ever lived in a country town, you'll know that gossip is both entertainment and hobby.
No one wants to be the talk of the town, we are judged by the actions of our family, and gossip is wielded as a weapon.
It is in this context that Cynthia finds herself stumbling alone through her grief and trauma. Her mother has committed a terrible crime, and her father's neglect has solidified into complete abandonment.
Still in shock, with low self-worth and few boundaries, Cynthia is easy prey for the worst kinds of men.
You know the ones; they're the doting husbands and fathers, loyal mates. Maybe they can be jerks but underneath it all they're really good guys - pillars of their community.
And behind every good guy are even better guys. The ones who would never do that to a woman, but won't tell their mates to stop. The ones who crush you with their words instead of their fists. Cynthia is victimized by both types of men. Until she isn't.
We watch Cynthia move between grief, depression, and numb detachment before finally settling into a visceral and unbridled rage. As she plumbs the depths of her resilience, she rediscovers her own power. She forms unlikely alliances with other women, and together they are stronger than they could have imagined.
Like its namesakes, the Furies of ancient Greek mythology, this is a story of revenge and the villain is patriarchal violence against women.
Author Mandy Beaumont weaves the threads of Cynthia's story into the same tapestry as every woman who has ever been ridiculed, neglected, used and abused. Their voices echo across history, softly at first, but growing louder.
Written with a direct, poetic style and truncated sentences, The Furies is a tense and provocative read. The heat and desperation of drought rises from every page, punctuated by an unsettling sense of unreality.
This is Mandy Beaumont's first novel and with it, she firmly places herself in the same league as Australian contemporaries such as Charlotte Wood, Sophie Laguna and Hannah Kent. As beautiful as it is gut-wrenching, this is a debut that pulls no punches.
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