A near-future Australia has been devastated by a virus, the survivors clinging to life however they can.
Finn is a survivor.
Two years since his parents died and the rest of the locals fled, he and his dog Rowdy are the lone occupants of what was once a thriving holiday town, we assume on Victoria’s southern coast.
Finn, who guesses he is almost sixteen, has a routine. He surfs, he dives for abalone and lobster, he traps rabbits, and collects a few eggs from the town’s now feral chickens. His hidden store of tinned food is carefully rationed.
But there is more to survival in this new Australia than finding food.
Wilders – armed gangs – roam the countryside, and Finn is on constant alert for the day they find and invade his town, tearing it apart for hidden food.
But when someone does crash into Finn’s life, appearing on the beach when Finn is out riding his board, it’s not, at first, the Wilders. It’s a girl. Sick, terrified and running from the Wilder who held her as a slave, Rose blunders into Finn’s town one winter afternoon.
She’s a Siley. An asylum seeker from Afghanistan
And the Wilders are close behind. Because the virus has killed far, far more girls and women than men, and Rose is too precious to lose.
And so begins Finn’s new battle for survival. Against the Wilders who have followed Rose into his town. Against the blood poisoning that is ravaging Rose’s frail body. And most dangerous of all, when Finn treks into the mountains and forests to the north, where the Wilders rule.
Because somewhere out there is Rose’s little sister, Kas, and Finn has promised to find her and bring her to safety.
But is there safety anywhere in this lawless Australia? And is there anyone out there who Finn can trust as he risks everything to keep a promise to a girl he hardly knows?
The characters in The Road to Winter are authentic and three dimensional, they live in a terrifyingly believable world, and their choices and struggles ring true.
In this world the reader is confronted with what it means to be a desperate survivor, whether born in Australia or having fled here from elsewhere. And what it means – for Rose and Finn and Kas or even perhaps one day us – to find sanctuary, or to be met with fear and hate.
A book for our time, that takes root in the memory.