Lorna M. (Ukiah, CA)
That Deadman Dance
I enjoyed this book and probably will recommend it for my local book club. The characters really came alive, and the story was believable (and heart-wrenching). I had some trouble following the time line - couldn't seem to match the dates at the beginning of the sections with what was happening in the story. I also had difficulties following some of the prose (that may have been intentional on the author's part, and it may make more sense on a second reading, which I plan to do).
Kim Scott is an accomplished writer and does a fine job of describing two incompatible cultures. The characterization of several of the people was especially vivid - Bobby, Chaine, and Jack Tar stand out particularly.
Soosi D. (Shelton, Washington)
Something New to Think About
This book was an adventure into something completely new for me. Like others, I have read much about the great American expansion and the experiences with the colonists and the native Americans, but I knew nothing about the early exchanges between the indigenous peoples of Australia and the western colonists. I found the writing initially quite engaging, particularly the descriptions but found the plot disjointed and meandering, which was sometimes frustrating. I could not help but think about Caleb's Crossing as a comparison, when I read this. My only other exposure to the Down Under conflicts with indigenous people was Mr. Pip. I am now enticed to read more about these the Aboriginal people of Australia.
Nancy O. (Hobe Sound, FL)
A new and different take on a tragic story
There are several novels about the relationship between the indigenous peoples of Australia and the newly-arriving settlers (Tim Winton or Kate Grenville are authors that come to mind in this area), but That Deadman Dance offers a slightly different take on this topic. For that reason, plus the author's obvious love for his subject and his delightful prose, I couldn't put this book down once I'd started it. Readers familiar with this topic already know the tragic outcome of the overall situation, but I was particularly struck by the initial promise of a harmonious co-existence when settlers first arrive. From that viewpoint, the tragedy that ensues for the Noongar people becomes more distressing as the novel progresses, allowing the reader to become more deeply involved in the story. Anyone who enjoys Australian fiction, or who is interested in novels about the effects of colonization would enjoy this story; Scott's novel would also be an outstanding choice for a book group, because it raises so many interesting questions. Overall, a very good read, one I'd recommend.
Catherine M. (Grand Forks, ND)
That Deadman Dance Review
Although I am quite familiar with the history of western expansion in the United States, "That Deadman Dance" by Kim Scott was my first exposure to the history of early contacts between the British (the horizon people) and the indigenous people of southwestern Australia (the Noongar). Scott presents his story about colonization from several characters’ points of view and with engaging language that takes the reader back in time and beyond familiar places. Overall, an important story that reveals the complexities of colonization.
Alice W. (Sacramento, CA)
That Deadman Dance
I was quite disappointed in the rhythm of this book. I have read many novels from and about Australia and always have been fascinated. Perhaps there is an affectation that I don't relate to...I am not sure, but I found myself sighing as the book went on and was never very interested in the plot. Finishing it became a struggle as the characters never seemed to take on a persona that called to me.
Kathrin C. (Corona, CA)
After reading the prologue and being quite taken by the both language and the images, I could almost touch the rugged Australian coast, so close and so vivid in Scott’s words. I was expecting to like this novel very much. And parts of the book brought nineteenth century Western Australia with the first contact between the Aboriginal Noongar and European settlers terrifically to life. But Bobby Wabalanginy’s ongoing story simply did not grab hold of my attention, not enough to carry me through the whole book. But I definitely felt the power and the beauty of Scott's writing and I think that will tempt me to reread this novel at a later time. And perhaps as a reader I must take some of the blame for missed connections with this novel.
Penny P. (Santa barbara, Calif)
While this book had an interesting topic it was difficult for me to read.. The writing was good but somewhat disjointed. While I really tried to involve myself in the book, I was often confused because of the style in which it was written. The story was slow. I do think the story addressed a very important and dark time in history and I certainly did feel for the Aboriginal people. I do not think the book was bad, it talked about a time in history that should not be forgotten and had pretty well developed characters that I could empathise with. This would be a good book for anyone who is particularly interested in the history of Australia or in colonization. It would not be a good book for someone looking for a good, relaxing read.