When The Storm Breaks

Written by Bonnie Leon
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

In the conclusion of Leon’s Queensland Chronicles (The Heart of Thornton Creek, For the Love of the Land), this time a terrible drought and fire has descended on the Thornton family, devastating both the land and its plucky couple, Daniel and Rebecca. Where to go for help when the bank refuses a loan? To a shady, unprincipled and murderous American named Marshall, though Daniel’s been warned away.

The first chapter ends with a lie that sets new, man-made disasters upon the family and their staff. As violence escalates, Rebecca and their children go to her family in Boston, where she wards off advances and finds the friendly loan that she thinks will get their land back into their care. But their creditor now wants the station. A gunfight will decide who gets Douloo.

Though clearly and competently written, the trials of the family are set pieces and wrought with much worrying, premonitions, and repetition. Daniel’s reaction when a “blackfella” worker is hanged as a consequence of his unpaid debt might cause offence in even Christian readers: “I should have told him about Jesus.”