Book Review: The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

Published in Australia on the 4th August, 2020 by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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Genre: Literary Fiction, Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction).

Australian RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9781760893316

Format: Trade Paperback

Page Count: 272

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Penguin Books Australia

For readers of Station Eleven and Everything I Never Told You, a debut novel set on the brink of catastrophe, as a young woman chases the world’s last birds – and her own final chance for redemption.

A dark past. An impossible journey. The will to survive.

How far you would you go for love? Franny Stone is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica.

As animal populations plummet and commercial fishing faces prohibition, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny’s life begin to unspool. A daughter’s yearning search for her mother. An impulsive, passionate marriage. A shocking crime. Haunted by love and violence, Franny must confront what she is really running towards – and from.

The Last Migration is a wild, gripping and deeply moving novel from a brilliant young writer. From the west coast of Ireland to Australia and remote Greenland, through crashing Atlantic swells to the bottom of the world, this is an ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened, and an epic story of the possibility of hope against all odds.

My Review:

I received an Uncorrected Proof Copy of The Last Migration from Penguin Books Australia in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

I can safely say that I haven’t read anything like this utterly beautiful and completely captivating and equally moving book before and honestly I’m compelled to say that you all definitely should add it to your TBR! The Last Migration is just packed filled with hope, yearning, longing and a sheer passion and determination that is completely admirable, to say the least!

From the first page, it was essentially impossible for me not to get swept up in Franny’s utter sheer ferocious determination to witness the last of the Artic Terns on what might just be their final migration to Antarctica. She’s just wholly consumed by a longing to witness the migration, I couldn’t help but just hope that she’d succeed on this quest! In turn, at every moment, The Last Migration is nothing short of a visual spectacular that

The setting of this book in itself is haunting, too. I must admit, I don’t often frequent towards Cli-Fi, but when I do it’s really hard not to be intrinsically haunted by it. I can’t imagine a world without wild animals, they’re not only beautiful but completely majestic and they should be able to freely roam in the wild, her we know that this definitely isn’t the case! Animals are hunted and so many beautiful creatures are on the cusp of extinction, so reading The Last Migration where animals are practically near obsolete, with so many precious animals being obliterated, well, the fact that this breathtaking book mirrors what the future could potentially look like, it’s definitely chilling!

As chilling as I found this completely unique book, I found it completely immersive and atmospheric too. I couldn’t help but feel completely mesmerised by Franny’s character,often found herself wading through the watery depths of the sea, often riddled with a yearning to be one with the water, often feeling it’s harmony yet knowing it can be dangerous, too. I couldn’t help but admire Franny’s resilience throughout this book too, I mean she doesn’t even hesitate to save who she thinks is a drowning man near the beginning of this novel – completely and utterly admirable!

Mirrored in the wild, stormy but yet sometimes calm seas I think is Franny Stone herself, really. Filled with a complete thirst for adventure, with more than an abundant will for wandering, often leaving her beloved Niall for extended periods (their romance was completely unique and sweeping in its own way, with both of them being unable to ignore the hunger for the other, the captivating curiosity about the others passions, so similar and yet with their differences too. With The Great Migration being told in both the past and present, with Franny lamenting over her marriage to Niall, commenting to other crew members of The Shanghai that he’d left her, but often the context to this not being revealed right away, (I was thinking, okay, did you seperate or did he pass away or?!).

I completely found myself fully engaged in the story all the more, given Charlotte McConaghy’s narration weaved the past and present so poignantly, making for an utterly raw reading experience. I really appreciated the flashbacks to Franny’s childhood, being born in Ireland but growing up in Australia, yet never feeling like she belonged anywhere, often looking for family on both her Mam and Dad’s side, yet hardly ignoring the sense of seclusion and aloneness that she really feels, at least until Niall comes into the picture.

Even then though, I was quite astounded as to the fact that whirlwind wedding, shared passion and courtship aside, I felt like Niall and Franny often might’ve been strangers to one another, really. As it is though, I do think Franny’s often consuming restlessness is something we all feel, a fierce longing within us all, so I never found myself questioning Franny straying away from Niall and in turn, I think he always understood his wife’s ways; Their relationship was just so intriguing throughout, though, Franny would refer to Niall in the present tense often, which would then result is even more poignancy as the story developed!

Honestly though, as I type this (having finished the book an hour ago (at the time of writing this review) I’m still filled with unease about how it may have mirrored our future climate, yet I’m wistful and feeling something akin to hope for having experienced The Great Migration. It’s nothing short of an utterly remarkable quest of undeniably sweeping proportions, filled with completely memorable characters and let’s just say I’m going to have The Great Migration lingering by my side for a long time to come still!

Happy Reading,


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