Cover Image: Under the Midnight Sky

Under the Midnight Sky

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Member Reviews

Absolutely fantastic.  I could not put this book down.  I have been eager to read it ever since I was approved, and finally had the chance.  Such a good story, well written...I cannot praise it enough.  6 stars if I could!!
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Book blurb...
Chilling secrets buried deep in wild bushland drive this thrilling new novel from bestseller Anna Romer
When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred twenty years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose
But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.
As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.
But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

My thoughts…
I have now read and enjoyed all four Anna Romer novels. Her plots are always complex and detailed, but this one really is the biggest tangle of intrigue and I loved the slow unravelling of the truth.
The mystery genre lends itself to the odd red herring or, in this case, a well-placed coincidence or two. As a reader we have to accept such literary devices are necessary to drive the story to the shocking plot twist.
And it is a terrific reveal at the end.
The other thing Anna Romer’s books never fail to do is engage the senses, while her landscapes/setting descriptions will transport you.
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This was a really good read. Got invested with both the characters and the story very easily. Will be reading more from this author.
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A quick easy read. Full of twists and turns. Under the Midnight Sky was set in a small Australian town in the present time with flash backs to the 1940’s and twenty years earlier.
Abby is back in her hometown of Gundara after being away for ten years, she is haunted by the death of her twelve, year old friend twenty years earlier and spends her spare time running in a remote Deepwater Gorge searching for answers and a secret place that has haunted her memory for years.
One day while she is out running in the Deepwater Gorge, she finds a teenage girl unconscious. She leaves the girl and goes to where she can call for help but when the ambulance arrives the girl has vanished.
Abby has trouble finding someone who believes she had seen the unconscious girl based on what happened twenty years ago in the same area. She is a journalist working for the local newspaper. She wants to write a feature article about mysterious deaths that occurred at Deepwater Gorge, but her boss Kendra wants her to write about a local true crime author Tom Gabriel and reveal his faults.
Abby meets the local author and helps him out and in turn gaining his trust, he talks about his life and his latest novel. Tom lives in an old rambling house full of the previous owner’s furniture and nick knacks. Abby and Tom find an old scrap book and pages torn from a diary that reveal something very sinister happened in the house.
This is a murder mystery about life in a small town, families, secrets, friendships and journalists. I loved the setting and the character’s and the way Abby was determined to find the missing teenager. Another fantastic Australian book by Anna Romer.
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My Thoughts

‘... at Ravensong we’re the stars in the midnight sky that everything else revolves around.’

I am a HUGE Anna Romer fan, her books are always amazing - her latest is no different.  Under The Midnight Sky is her fourth novel and once  more delves deep into mysterious occurrences in the Australian setting. 

Anna presents us with another captivating psychological thriller, that will keep you guessing right to the very end. Comprised of two timelines, that not only compliment each other, but will also converge to a very enthralling conclusion. The secrets of Deepwater Gorge will slowly unfurl with a haunting and mesmerising tale that I highly recommend. 

Anna is now a proven master storyteller who weaves a tale full of suspense and slowly unravels long buried secrets that have impacted on both past and present characters. There are plenty of twists that will keep you second guessing. This is crime fiction at its best, where the use of setting provides some mystic gothic overtones on a small country town. 

Combined with the mystery, Anna brings not only the setting of a bush landscape but even the house itself to life, they seem like characters in themselves, taking on a story of their own. A little romance is offered but does not take away from the core of the book. Do yourself a favour and partake in this dark mystery full of secrets, trauma and families in a tragic tale, but not without glimmers of future hopes. 

‘Was there a source of evil, a source of blame? Or was there just a long chain of random events, leading a person inevitably towards their fate?’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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Wow what a fabulous read, for some reason I’ve been putting off reading this book despite loving Anna Romer’s other books. I’m so glad I finally managed to read it. With its mysterious and darkly atmospheric cover, it completely sets the scene for the secrets that are going to be uncovered. This is a mystery, a thriller, a love story, a story about family, forgiveness, trauma and letting the past go and getting on with life.

Talk about twists and turns. I did have my suspicions about one of the mysteries, but some of the events leading up to the reveals were unexpected. The characters were well written and relatable, thankfully, despite not having been through the traumatic experiences that Abby and Lilly had been through I was still able to put myself in their shoes, not that I’d want to.

Abby has been through a traumatic experience as a child which has continued to haunt her and has laid the foundations for how she lives her life, never trusting people, unable to forgive herself for anything or believe others will truly love her.

I loved Tom, the surly hermit-like author who Abby goes to interview and ends up with far more than she ever expected. Meeting Tom was the catalyst for all the changes and truths that come about during the course of the story.

A mystery that is uncovered in Tom’s house and possible links to the past lead Abby to meet Lilly and Joe and learn a lot about secrets and the tricks the mind can play.

Through diary entries we slowly glean information about the events that Lilly survived, and the things that happened in the past. But you’ll have to wait until the end to uncover everything.

I completely disliked Abby’s editor Kendra and her thoughts on who and what kind of people deserve our attention, compassion and help made my blood boil. It is the marginalised people who most need these things from us.

This was a 5⭐ read and one I have no trouble recommending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
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Abby Bardot has returned to the town where she grew up. Always running away from commitment, she realises that some things must be faced. She is haunted by Deepwater Gorge, a place where at 12years of age she was abducted and escaped from and where a little time later her best friend was abducted and found murdered.

Set in two times lines and intersecting nicely we follow Abby in the present day and Frankie and Lilly who were abducted in the 1950’s.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I usually favour on time line over the other but I was equally invested in both with this story. I also enjoyed the gentle romance aspect in the present day, as the secrets of Deepwater Gorge is worked through.
Haunting, mesmerising and deeply satisfying, this is a novel I happily recommend.
I have read all of the author’s books and this would be my favourite.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to read.
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Thanks to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Australia and Anna Romer for my copy of her new book : Under The Midnight Sky and it's a ripper of a book!

Abby lives in a small country town in NSW called Deepwater Gorge and she works as a journalist for a small local newspaper.

While out going for a run along a track in the Australian bush, Abby finds a young girl who's alive but hurt and non responsive. Due to having no phone coverage because of the remote location she has to run back to get help and of course when she returns the girl has gone. The area is what we call scrub or bush in Australia it's a dense over grown mixture of native plants, ferns and trees.
So I can understand just how creepy the situation was for Abby, is someone hiding behind trees looking at her and what happened to the missing girl?
After contacting the local police, Abby gets the brush off and after asking a few questions she finds out that a young teenage girl is missing, her name is Shayla and has a history of running away. Her mum isn't that worried and thinks she will either return home or turn up at her dads. The police think the same thing?
Abby seems to be the only one who is concerned, 20 years ago two girls bodies were found in the same area, a local man was arrested, the latest missing girl called Shayla looks a lot like one of the victims and she starts to have doubts about if they have the real killer in jail?

Abby is given a hard task by her boss, she's to try and interview a famous writer called Tom Gabriel, he has just purchased an old mansion called Ravensong and he just happens to write crime novels. The weather in Australia can be fickle so while interviewing Tom it starts to pour with rain. Abby ends up having to stay at Ravensong for a couple of days due to the only road out of the property is covered by water and isn't safe to cross.
While staying with Tom, she notices a strange window on one side of the house, it is covered by metal bars and she finds out that it's actually a secret room that no one knows about and not even Tom the houses new owner.
While nosing around Abby finds a page from a secret diary, it's about two girls who have been locked up in the house for 5 years and kept captive by a man called Ennis.
As she delves into the past, Abby discovers two girls went missing in the 1940's, they're sisters called Frankie and Lily. They had never been found and she notices that the story of the missing girls has a lot in common with the story about the two girls who went missing 20 years ago and in the same area.
As Abby tries to find out what happened to the girls in the 1940's she meets an older couple called Lil and Joe.

Anna Romer's book is a brilliant psychological thriller, it has so many twists and turns that you can't predict what will happen next, add the creepy Australian bush into the story and it sent shivers down my spine.
You question how close is the bond between siblings, the love between and older couple, are they as nice as they seem to be and what secrets have been covered up?
Tom and Abby are also getting close, start to have feeling for each other and is it possible for them to start a relationship?
Under The Midnight Sky has so many layers, it keeps you guessing right to the end and I couldn't stop reading it. I really enjoyed the book, I gave it 5 stars and I must read Anna's other book called Thornwood House that I have sitting on my kindle and haven't read yet.
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‘Memories came so vividly. Why was that? They should fade with age, grow ever more distant. Instead, there were times –like now –when they assaulted her with a jumble of sights and sounds and smells. Crushed eucalypt leaves. The eerie whispers and crackles of the forest at night. The sigh of water racing in the gorge. And her sister’s weight in her arms. The sticky heat of blood on her hands.’

It's as though every new novel from Anna Romer sets a whole new standard for Australian fiction. I don't know how she does it, topping perfection over and over. Under the Midnight Sky is a novel that I was enthralled by, from start to finish. Fortunately, I was trapped in a car on a 10 hour journey, so there was little reason for me to put the novel down. This is truly gripping crime fiction, with gothic echoes, a slow burning connection between two of the main characters, and a mystery that ripples through generations, staining a town’s reputation. The plotting is masterful, the character development strong and steady. There's a twist in this novel that I never anticipated, but it made such perfect sense once all was revealed. A chillingly atmospheric read that led to a pit of dread lodging itself within me for the duration. Highly recommended, and will no doubt make my top reads list at the end of the year.

‘Leaning back in his chair, he looked at the ceiling. Saw, in his mind’s eye, the hidden room with its barred window and bloodstained sheets. The two young sisters caged together there for five years. Faded little songbirds forgotten by the world.’
‘Pinching the bridge of my nose, I tried to summon the words to describe what I was feeling. The way my throat closed up from the stale mustiness, the way my pulse began to fly at the sight of the shadow-infested corners. The way my spirit shrank inside me like a walnut withering in its shell.’

Thanks is extended to Simon & Schuster Australia via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Under The Midnight Sky for review.
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I did not really enjoy the first book I read by this author, Thornwood House, but I am very glad I gave her a second chance. Under the Midnight Sky was a very enjoyable read indeed.

I loved the Australian setting and the characters were excellent. There was just the right amount of romance between Abby and Tom to balance the suspense of the disappearing children and recovered bodies. As happens in so many books lately the story is told in two time periods and the author handles this well. It was hard to work out the identity of the murderer and the author served up a clever twist right at the end. 

All in all this was an excellent read, nicely written with some clever ideas. Recommended!
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Anna Romer has told a well crafted and absorbing tale of love in all it's forms - not just romance, but also the bond between siblings, the enduring love between a long married couple as well as a darker twisted, obsessive love.

Abby Bardot is a journalist for a local paper, living in a small NSW country town near a mountainous wilderness area called Deepwater Gorge reserve. Out running one day she comes across an unconcious, injured teenage girl, but when she comes back with help she has disappeared. No one has been reported missing but Abby is concerned that events from the past could be happening again. When she was twelve Abby was abducted and locked in a dark cabin somewhere within the reserve. Although she managed to escape, the experience has always haunted her, especially after her best friend Alice was later abducted and killed.

While interviewing a famous writer, Tom Gabriel, who recently bought an old run-down mansion near Deepwater Gorge, Abby discovers a hidden attic room in his house, clearly used to keep someone prisoner. A page from a secret diary that they find leads Tom and Abby to gradually uncover the tale of two young sisters abducted in the 1940s and held captive for years.

Romer has masterfully woven these strands together to bring us a suspenseful and engaging novel as secrets buried deep in the past are all eventually brought to light by Abby's dogged investigations. Highly recommended.
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‘The night sky faded into dawn as I ran along the deserted road.’

In the present, Abby Bardot is concerned for an injured teenager she found at a campground but who disappeared before an ambulance arrived.  The girl looks similar to the victims of three brutal murders which happened twenty years earlier in the same remote area, near the small town of Gundara.  Abby is haunted by her own traumatic memories as well.   Could the killer be free?  Abby, now a reporter for the Gundara Express, wants to write a feature about the area’s dark history.  The newspaper’s editor is reluctant, but says she’ll consider it if Abby writes a feature article about the reclusive crime writer, Tom Gabriel, who has just moved into Ravensong, a remote property near the edge of Deepwater Gorge. 

‘What better place to write about the murders than a remote old house that overlooked the wilderness where they had occurred?’

Abby drives out to Ravensong and while Tom is reluctant at first, an accident means that he needs Abby’s help.  The story moves between the present, where Abby discovers a hidden attic room in Tom’s house with evidence of imprisonment, and the past where two sisters were abducted in 1948.
Can there be a connection between the two abducted girls, the three murdered girls, Abby’s memories and the missing teenager?  Abby and Tom both have issues of their own to deal with, and Abby’s editor makes an awkward situation even more difficult.  But Abby is convinced that the injured teenager she saw is missing and is determined to make sense of the flashbacks she is experiencing.

‘Anything is possible if you want it badly enough.’

I picked this novel up and couldn’t put it down.  I wanted to know what happened to the two abducted sisters, who the murderer was and whether the missing girl would be found alive. There are long-held secrets to uncover and plenty of twists before the end of the story.  I liked the way in which Ms Romer pulled the threads together: the history of the house, the mystery of the abducted sisters, a diary entry for 1949 found in the hidden room and Abby’s experiences.  I’ve read all four of Ms Romer’s novels, and while I’ve enjoyed each of them, this is the best yet!

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster (Australia) for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Continually haunted by her own experiences as a twelve-year-old, Abby Bardot kept people at arm’s length. Now a newspaper reporter, Abby wanted to write an article about the murders of young girls that had occurred in the woods surrounding the small town she lived in. She felt families, especially young girls, needed to be aware of the dangers. When she found a young girl, injured and seemingly unconscious up at one of the lookouts, the surging memories hit immediately. But when she directed the ambulance back to the spot, the young girl was gone…

In her quest to interview reclusive writer, Tom Gabriel, Abby arrived at his home in the woods one day, sure he wouldn’t turn her away. The beautiful old home of Ravensong which Tom had recently purchased, captivated Abby. But over days, and during the process of the interview, a tiny hidden room was discovered, high up in the attic. Tom and Abby’s shock at what they found had them digging deeply into the past. Was it connected to the latest young girl who’d gone missing? And would they be able to find her before it was too late?

Wow! Aussie author Anna Romer’s latest novel, Under the Midnight Sky, is an absolute screamer! The chilling twists, the secrets buried so deeply the years flew by without knowledge by police or anyone else. The innocent and the lost; the heartache; the fear and terror – all blended perfectly to form a novel which made my heart race. A perfect psychological thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.

With thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster AU for my uncorrected proof ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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4.5 stars
Under The Midnight Sky is the fourth novel by Australian author, Anna Romer. Journalist Abby Barton runs every day, through the Deepwater Gorge Reserve, searching. She’s determined to find some clue to the horror she endured twenty years earlier, and to the abduction of her good friend. She’s passionate about warning teenaged girls of the danger, even though the man who abducted her is in jail. 

When she stumbles on a young girl, unconscious, in a clearing, she hurries to summon help, but the girl has disappeared before the ambulance arrives. It just strengthens her resolve to publish her cautionary article. But her editor at the Gundara Express insists that she first get a tell-all interview with reclusive author, Tom Gabriel, whose novels based on true crime are best-sellers. 

Tom has bought Ravensong, right there on the edge of Deepwater Gorge, but the book he’s trying to write is resisting his efforts. The last thing he needs is another journalist writing a great pack of lies and smearing his reputation for some scandal sheet. Unfortunately, when Abby arrives, he’s in a rather vulnerable predicament and Abby makes the most of her advantage. Neither, though, is unaware to the frisson of attraction between them.

The discovery of a hidden room in Ravensong, a blood-stained pillow and a page, hinting at two young girls held captive, torn from a handwritten 1949 diary, immediately excites Abby’s investigative impulses and stimulates Tom’s creative juices. Could Frankie and Lilly have survived? If so, where are they now? And is it related to the other missing girls?

As well as narratives from several different perspectives, the story is told by diary entries and memory flashbacks. Romer’s descriptive prose is so evocative that the reader can just about smell the eucalyptus trees and hear the birdsong that characterises the Australian bush. Her characters are believable, each having some history of their own to affect their behaviour, and their dialogue is natural.

Romer’s plot is intriguing, with twists and turns and red herrings that keep the reader guessing right up to the dramatic climax. In addition to giving the reader a riveting page-turner, Romer touches on society’s attitudes to runaway teens and the almost-universal preconceived ideas about the predators who endangering young girls. PTSD also features. An atmospheric tale of tragedy and hope that will appeal to lovers of good Aussie fiction.  
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Australia.
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