Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 28, 2013

Darkness on the Edge of Town (2012), by Jessie Cole

Darkness on the Edge of TownI have discovered a beaut new Aussie author, thanks to Angela Meyer’s Literary Minded blog.  Darkness of the Edge of Town is an emotionally gripping tale that seduced me away from the IFFP titles I’m supposed to be reading, one of those books that you pick up just to have ‘a quick look’, and soon find yourself so utterly absorbed that all thoughts of the other book are entirely forgotten.

It begins with Vincent’s discovery of a young girl beside the road.  She has crashed the car and is cradling a baby.

Vincent is nearly forty, and he’s been around a bit with women.  A single parent, he has a 16-year-old daughter called Gemma at home and although his place is a bit of shambles and he has a dead-end job, he’s not doing a bad job of bringing her up.  He and Gemma narrate the story of this young woman’s fragile state and how he comes to give her shelter when she needs it.  There are complex moral issues that arise out of his growing affection for the emotionally disturbed woman whose age is not revealed until late in the tale.

The story takes place in a perfectly realised remote small town – which gives Vincent a false sense of security.  Fragile, damaged Rachel was in flight when she stumbled into their lives, and Vincent’s belief that he can protect her from further harm is naïve.

The author is in firm control of her characters, contrasting Vincent’s tentative optimism and sense of responsibility with Gemma’s confusion about this strange situation and her own tentative steps towards teenage relationships.

Like Karen Foxlee’s The Midnight Dress, this novel crosses over with Young Adult fiction, but is satisfying reading for adults too.

Do check out Angela Meyer’s interview with Jessie Cole at Literary Minded.

Jessie Cole blogs here and you can read an extract here.

Now I’ll get back to reading A Death in the Family!

Author: Jessie Cole
Title: Darkness of the Edge of Town
Publisher: Fourth Estate (Harper Collins), 2012
ISBN: 9780732293192
Source: Kingston Library


Fishpond: Darkness on the Edge of Town


  1. This one sounds as though it’s begging for a film adaptation.


    • Hi Guy, I hope you’re enjoying the Easter break:)
      I think you might be right. Yes, with Hugh Jackman as Vincent, and Deborah Mailman as the ex-girlfirend Marie, but who to cast as Rachel and Gemma? It needs a younger Missy Higgins as Gemma, and someone pale and fragile looking as Rachel, someone who looks as if she could be aged anywhere from 16 to 21 …


  2. Always fun to pick out our ‘ideal cast.’ No break for me & I forgot it was easter…


    • That’s a pity, I’m not religious but it’s always a nice time to get together with family. We took the dogs for a walk a little while ago and there are heaps of family get togethers all over the neighbourhood.


  3. […] Darkness on the Edge of Town by Jessie Cole, see my review […]


  4. […] If anyone doubts the value of literary prizes to readers, this year’s ALS Gold Medal shortlist is an example of how it can introduce stylish new authors to the reading community.  Jessie Cole’s Darkness on the Edge of Town was released in July last year but it only came to my attention when I saw it among a very prestigious list of authors. For a debut novel to be included in the company of novels by notable authors like Michelle de Kretser,  Robert Drewe,  Christopher Koch and P. A. (Paddy) O’Reilly,  it must be rather special, and so it proved to be when I read it last week.  (Read my enthusiastic review here). […]


  5. Thanks for your review, Lisa. I loved this one as well. Her writing reminds me a little of another fab Australian author, Cate Kennedy.


    • Yes, I love Cate’s writing too. I wish she’d write me another novel!


  6. […] the latest reviews in Overland, The Australian, ANZ Lit Lovers, book’d out, 1 Girl 2 Many Books, and […]


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