A father's obsession. A daughter's quest
Eliza Grayling has lived in Sydney all her life, born there some 32 years ago, when the colony itself was still an infant. Too tall, too stern—too old, now—for marriage, she lives with her reclusive father, a former lieutenant and governor’s aide. Eliza watches over him, in case he injures himself while drunk. There is a shadow in his past, she knows. Something obsessive. Something to do with a man who bested him decades earlier.
Then Srinivas, another figure from that dark past, offers Joshua Grayling the chance for a reckoning. The plan entails a sea voyage to the far south and an uncertain, possibly violent, outcome. Eliza is horrified: such a thing is out of the question for an elderly man, let alone a helpless drunkard who also happens to be blind.
Unable to dissuade her father from his outlandish quest, Eliza begins to understand she may be forced to go with him. Then she sees the ship they will be sailing on. And in that instant, the voyage of the Moonbird becomes Eliza’s mission too.
"There is some kind of magic in the way Jock Serong conjures worlds and times and people. The Burning Island is a ripping yarn of a book; sometimes while reading I’d be sunk so deep in its adventures, and in the precision of captured moments, that if interrupted I’d rise to the surface blinking, reluctant and surprised." —Lucy Treloar, author of Wolfe Island
"The book is a bloody ripper. It’s a propulsive page turner with characters so real and complex that you can see them and is beautifully written at the sentence level. It’s about Australia. It’s about the deep violence of colonisation to the human world and the natural world. It’s about family, outward and inward exploration, the deep sea around us and within us."―Sarah Krasnostein, author of The Trauma Cleaner
"Devastatingly brilliant...Beautiful, mournful, infuriating and brimming with tension, On the Java Ridgeis utterly incomparable."― Shelf Awareness
"Minutely observed, raw and compassionate, Jock Serong’s writing holds the reader’s attention from the first word."―Staunch Prize judges, On the Java Ridge
"Serong has written a fine historical novel in The Burning Island. Its vivid depiction of Tasmania's frontier wars during the 19th century, and those who survived them, allow us to reconsider the colonial infancy of the burning island we inhabit today."―Sydney Morning Herald
"A talented storyteller."―Booklist on Preservation
"The moving story of a daughter’s devotion to her father, with a cracking denouement reminiscent of an Hercule Poirot mystery… The Burning Island starts out as a crime thriller involving a search for a missing ship and a quest for revenge [and]…turns into something much more."―Australian Book Review
"Gripping, gothic and unexpected: Jock Serong achieves the impossible, a man creating a completely brilliant central female character."―Michael Veitch, author of Hell Ship