1952. Tasmania. The beautiful green, rolling hills of the dairy town Mole Creek have a dark underside — a labyrinthine underworld of tunnels that stretch for countless miles, caverns the size of cathedrals and underground rivers that flood after heavy rain. The caves are dangerous places, forbidden to children. But this is Tasmania — an island at the end of the earth. Here, rules are made to be broken.
For two young brothers, a hidden cave a short walk from the family farm seems the perfect escape from their abusive, shell-shocked father — until the older brother goes missing. Fearful of his father, the younger and more vulnerable Kip lies about what happened. It is a decision that will haunt him his whole life.
Fifty years later, Kip — now an award-winning scientist — has a young son of his own, but cannot look him without seeing his lost brother, Tommy. On a mission of atonement, he returns to the cave they called Kubla to discover if it’s ever too late to have a second chance. To go back and set things right. To be the father you never had.
Following the release of her hugely successful first novel Pescador’s Wake, Katherine Johnson is back to share her exceptional writing talent with the world.
The Better Son is a richly imaginative and universal story about the danger of secrets, the beauty of forgiveness and the enthralling power of our natural landscape.
Harrowing but beautiful
I really really enjoyed “The Better Son”, it was harrowing and heartbreaking, but it was also captivating and really pulled me in from page one. I loved the depth she gave to the characters, I really felt I got to know them all. They all had incredible strength, as well as the incredible weight of the secrets they all carried. The whole book had a darkness about it, whether that was the darkness the men carried after the war, the darkness of everyone’s secrets, the never ending hard graft that the farm needed, and of course the caves themselves. There was also a general atmosphere of the landscape feeling dark and brooding and lacking sunlight. Even the boys complete excitement at finding the caves and the magical world they created there was done in darkness. The book also showed the beauty and goodness that can be found in the dark. Really really enjoyable
The better son
Heartbreaking but beautiful and hard to put down.