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A career-defining masterpiece by internationally award-winning Australian storyteller Jock Serong

The settlement is on a windswept island at the edge of Van Diemen's Land. The people gathered there, taken from their country, are sick and consumed by grief. The Commandant attends their deathbeds, steals what little they have and wrangles forces that resist his will-including the chief, their leader.

Things look even worse for the orphans Whelk and Pipi, locked in fear of the old man they know as the Catechist, who has both the power and the burning desire to hurt them. They may have an ally in the Storekeeper who is conscience-stricken and searching for kindness. But will his good intentions be enough to save them?