Songlines by Carolyn Denman is a YA urban fantasy set on a sheep station in a fictional town in Victoria, Australia. Drawing on the beliefs of a number of religions, including Judeo-Christian and Indigenous traditions, the story revolves around the idea of an Eden that was transported to Australia for protection.
The novel starts out as Lainie Gracewood and her best friend Noah Ashbree are about to finish high school. When a mining company starts exploring near Lainie’s aunt’s sheep station, their farmhand, Harry, an Aboriginal Elder, reveals a family secret that rocks her to her core. She is unwilling to believe what he has told her, until Harry disappears on a quest to save the area from the miners, and Lainie discovers a link between herself, Noah, and Bane, the boy who has been the bane of her existence since she was five, that make it impossible to discount the revelation. She also realises that, with Harry gone, it is up to her and Noah to protect the land.
Denman’s depiction of the Australian landscape, life in a small rural town, and her version of Eden are clear and concise, the characters and their relationships well developed. The dialogue is vernacular and authentic, and Lainie has a clear teen voice. At times I found the plot somewhat slow, which reduced the build-up of suspense, however the second half of the book picked up the pace to an exciting and dramatic conclusion. An enjoyable read for those who like speculative fiction of a supernatural nature.