Review - Dark Fires Shall Burn, Anna Westbrook

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Inspired by the true events surrounding an unsolved murder, Dark Fires Shall Burn is set in Sydney’s Newtown in the aftermath of World War II. - Full review at Newtown Review of Books

Year of Publication

Inspired by the true events of an unsolved murder

Sydney, 1946. Eleven-year-old Frances and her best friend, Nancy, are growing up in the doglegged streets of Newtown and into a world they do not understand. It is the aftermath of World War II, and thousands of damaged soldiers have returned to their homes, bearing the psychological scars of battle with them.

Meanwhile, in the seediest part of the city, fifteen-year-old Templeton lives amid bootleggers, gangs, and prostitutes with his sister Annie and her friends. Threatened by Annie's abusive lover, the nefarious Jack Tooth, they are forced to seek protection from a Darlinghurst madam: the once-powerful grog runner Dolly Jenkins. Soon, Templeton is drawn into an enigmatic underbelly of violence, sexuality, and secrets.

When Frances witnesses a shooting one night, these two worlds become inevitably intertwined. Templeton and the girls must grow up quickly and confront the darkness in the lives of those around them.

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