Today’s authors’ pick has been chosen by Jason Nahrung.
Day Boy (Text, 2015), by Brisbane writer Trent Jamieson.
Set in an isolated Australian country town, the story is told by adolescent Mark, entering his final period as Day Boy to the vampire Master Dain. This is in the time after the war, when the vampires rule what’s left of humanity: the Council of Teeth lurks in the bowels of a mountain fortress, casting a long, terrible shadow over Masters and humans alike. There are elements of Jamieson’s Roil in this, in the flitting, elemental vampires, the evocative descriptions of this place of light and dark and intrigue. Against this backdrop, what comes next for Mark as his tenure as Day Boy approaches its end?
Mark’s relationship with Dain that is key here, a paternal exploration, a coming of age story. It is affecting stuff. There are women here, but a few, primarily Mary and her daughter Anne, but this is a book about boys and men, their rivalries and cruelties, and the love of fathers and sons.
The larger story unfolds through episodic chapters with some events feeling almost as asides, others showing Mark’s maturation, all illustrating life under vampire rule, the wildness outside of town, that favourite Aussie trope of dangers lurking in the bush.
This lyrical exploration of an intriguing, at times monstrous world marks a fine addition to the canon of Australian vampire fiction.
Jason Nahrung’s most recent long fiction is the Outback vampire duology Blood and Dust and its sequel The Big Smoke. www.jasonnahrung.com