When a bridge in the small outback town of Mululuk mysteriously collapses, the town is cut off from the world, and its citizens from each other. As the locals try to work out why the bridge fell and what it will take to replace it, old rivalries, forgotten romances and primitive drives come to the fore.
Teenaged Rachel has come from ‘the city’ to stay with her uncle after her home life has fallen apart, and quickly becomes involved in the quest for the truth about the bridge. Father Nott, the local Franciscan priest, is trying to get the hysterical townsfolk to see sense, particularly his gossip-mongering friend Gussy. Shane, Janice and Craig find themselves at the heart of a love triangle with deadly ramifications that will reverberate far beyond the three of them. And the mysterious Charlie, a scruffy, charismatic alcoholic with a dark past, has a terrifying idea about what it takes to keep a bridge standing.
In a town that keeps its secrets like it builds its houses – underground – Charlie’s is the most dangerous of all.
Wry, rich and unsettling, All Fall Down is a starkly Australian gothic novel about a community divided, and a chilling, archaic belief about what must be done to reunite it.
Longlisted for Sisters in Crime Australia: Davitt Awards
‘In true Australian gothic fashion, Austin weaves her complex plot between shifting perspectives in sleek, elegant prose. The interplay between the characters and the reader is reminiscent of a comedy of errors, albeit without the humour, and it is entirely engaging. The reader is privy to the truth behind every misunderstanding, misconception and superstition that assails Austin’s well-drawn, grounded characters. Bridges, Charlie knows, demand a sacrifice to remain standing, while Gussy hunts a more earthly saboteur, and Father Nott would rather neither of them speak to Richard. While All Fall Down isn’t a thriller, a delicious tension is maintained throughout. Each revelation adds to an increasing foreboding that reaches its climax throughout the final stunning and satisfying scenes.’
The Australian book Review
‘Couched in the gothic sensibilities of writers such as Barbara Baynton and, more recently, Evie Wyld and Charlotte Wood, in the slow-burn lead-up to the dramatic finale, Austin skilfully juggles a number of plot threads involving a panoply of characters … [until] against the landscape of Mululuk, with its heatwaves and constant dust storms, these love stories take on an almost elemental significance.’
'Strange and spooky.’
'This is a poetic, sometimes disturbing debut and one that adds a unique voice to a long running and very Australian tradition.'
'Cassandra Austin beautifully evokes the feel of the outback, the heat and that red dirt.'
Chosen for: Apple ibooks A Best Books of the Month and BooksOnTheRail February subscription read