The Attack by Catherine Jinks

‘I recognised him at once.’

It is 2019 and Robyn Ayres is the caretaker of Finch Island, a national park in Queensland’s Morton Bay. Finch Island was once used as a leprosy quarantine station and now is used for camping and holidaymakers. Robyn looks after maintenance of the buildings and provides catering for the groups that book the site. It is usually a quiet and isolated life, but Robyn does not mind. But Robyn’s relative tranquillity is about to be shattered.

The current group on the island is a week-long bootcamp run for young offenders and boys at risk. The group is run by a group of ex-army veterans: they have been here before. But the group they have this time is particularly challenging. While most of their pranks are annoying, some are dangerous. And Robyn is sure that she recognises one of the boys: he is called Darren now, but she knew him as Aaron.

In 2009, Robyn was a primary school teacher. Aaron was one of the boys in her class and he was at the centre of a custody battle between his parents. The odds were stacked against Aaron’s mother: his paternal grandmother was a particularly manipulative and nasty piece of work who nobody was prepared to cross. And Aaron, caught in the middle was disruptive and violent in school.

Yes, 2009 did not end well for Aaron or for Robyn. But why has his name been changed and why is he on Finch Island in 2019?

The story shifts between 2009 and 2019 and the tension builds. Robyn may have questions about the past, but in 2019 she and others are at risk. Her past, and Aaron’s, both become part of a dangerous present.

How will it end? You will need to read it to find out. I enjoyed this novel and found the ending satisfying.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith