All the Birds, Singing

By Evie Wyld Penguin Random House


Evie Wyld

Judges' report


On a nameless island where the wind and rain are unrelenting, Jake Whyte lives alone but for her dog and her flock of sheep, away from other people and clearly in some way damaged. But fear sets in when something starts savaging her sheep, and even invading her house, though she can never work out what it is or manage to confront it. Gradually she begins to trust a few other people as she tries to deal with the threat to her sheep and possibly even to herself.

Only when we learn something of Jake’s former life in faraway Australia do we begin to think that the nameless beast might be somehow connected with her own past. Wyld structures and paces the story with extraordinary skill, revealing Jake’s former life one detail at a time in a slow burn that only catches fire at the very end of the novel, where we learn the full extent of her guilt and dread, and realise with hindsight that one of this book’s subjects is the destructive force of jealousy and thwarted love. The novel is a gripping and compelling read; its Gothic elements make it powerfully atmospheric and spooky, and the reader is irresistibly carried along by the flawless pacing of a mystery and its revelation.