This review originally appeared in the December ARRA newsletter. I saw another review of it over at All About Romance and the reviewer there gave it an A- so YMMV.
Why I read it: I was offered a digital ARC by the publisher via NetGalley.
What it’s about: Part chick-lit/women’s fiction, part farce, part mystery with a dash of sweet romance on the side, Liar Bird is the story of Cassandra Daley, shining star of the Sydney PR circuit. The story begins when one of Cassandra’s houses of spin falls in a heap, leaving her covered in scandal and persona non grata in her home city. She accepts a job as a PR rep in the small town of Beechville on the North Coast of New South Wales, where she meets a cast of quirky characters and one grouchy wildlife ranger, Mac. It seems that Mac, isn’t happy about Cassandra’s arrival and pretty soon, a series of unfortunate events which appear designed to force her back to Sydney occur – and all can be laid at Mac’s door. It’s difficult to explain the story more without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say it involves feral pigs, endangered species, lies, a media circus, a flood and wild chickens. It’s the classic fish-out-of-water story, complete with a green tree frog in the toilet!
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Cassandra takes inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass:
“Like me, my mother believes there are guiding forces at play in our lives. Unlike me, she isn’t satisfied with allowing a children’s book to channel these forces for her.”
And there are wonderful and (in the context of this book) pithy quotes from the book interspersed with the text. Cassandra also subscribes to the philosophy of Rene Descartes and, after meeting said green tree frog in her toilet, has imaginary philosophical discussions with Rene Treefrog. Told in the first person, the story shines with Cassandra’s dry humour, from the discussions with her Blacktown family, her thoughts about the Sydney social sharks and her experiences in Beechville.
Where the book falls a little flat is in the romance department. Cassandra is immediately physically attracted to Mac but they have very little interaction – Mac is taciturn, hardly talks to her at all and he gives every appearance of wanting her out of town. The reader has nothing of Mac’s POV except through his dialogue, which is, mostly, very spare. It was difficult for me to completely buy the level of attraction Cassandra felt for him and that made it hard to buy into the events immediately before the flood and her fast turnaround to “Cassie”. After the flood, the story dragged a little – I felt this part could have been shorter and this would have improved the story – for me the mystery part of the story started to edge over into frustration territory.
What else? It’s very much an Australian story, with references to local landmarks, SBS and Home and Away and it was certainly an amusing read. If you like stories with a bit of everything together with a touch of romance, this one is probably for you.