Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

This book was just what I needed to read right now; a fast-paced, gruesome but extremely well-written horror. I haven’t read anything quite like this for a while so it really made an impact.

Shepherd expertly tells the tale of Tom Clay, an orphaned boy transported to 1840s Australia after being convicted of poaching. He is a bright, quiet boy who feels an affinity with animals and isn’t really easy around other people. His father taught him forest craft from an early age and he finds many uses for his tracking skills when things turn decidedly nasty in The Outback!

Catherine Jinks has crafted a wonderful novel. It blends seamlessly between poignant glimpses of Tom’s earlier life and gripping moments of high drama. The historical background and descriptions of life both as a poor Suffolk poacher and a ‘lag’ in New South Wales are very engaging. You are left with a very clear sense of time and place which really adds to the atmosphere. The horror scenes are handled deftly with plenty of suspense and twists.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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This short novel packs so much into it that I haven't seen before. Set in south Wales it describes convicts lives that  were sent away from London to live in other British owned countries in the 1800s. This extremely fast paced, thrill packed story will have you on the edge of your seat gasping aloud. Extraordinaryly original story that you should not pass up, I couldn't put it down, read in one day.
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Tom Clay is a boy who has lost everything he has ever loved.  Having been transported to Australia as a convict for poaching (his only means of survival having been orphaned) he finds himself a shepherd to sheep on an Australia farm in a remote rural setting.  Coming from poaching stock, Tom has to relearn everything he has been taught as he no longer recognises the plants, animals and other signals from nature.
Tom has the misfortune of finding himself in a battle of wits against violent and dangerous bushrangers.  Can he use his poaching skills to match wits with these armed men?
At first I thought this would be a prolonged drudge through Australian convict history and I was not sure I would finish the book. However, after the first chapter the pace of the book sped up significantly and I found it very hard to put down.  This was the 1840 equivalent of an action movie 'car-chase'.  A very gruesome and sometimes graphically told story about a brave and very clever young man who managed to break my heart.
Thank you Text Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this very engaging piece of historical fiction.
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The story is set in colonial Australia. Tom Clay is a young convict who works as a shepherd in New South Wales. He tends the sheep for his master alongside other convicts in the bush. Dan Carver is also a convict. He is a vicious man who has vowed to kill Tom and the other convicts. Tom was just thirteen years old when he was caught poaching and sentenced to seven years. 

Set in 1840. The story is told over a short amount of days. Tom has to try and outwit his pursuer. Tom has his dog and fellow shepherd with him. I liked the authors writing style. Theres some gore and violence so I wouldn't recommend it to the faint hearted. We get on insight in how to peruse someone out in the wilderness. Trigger warning: some animals are killed or wounded 

I would like to thank NetGalley, Text Publishing and the author Catherine Jinks for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an extremely tightly-paced story that gives you an interesting lens on a time and place many of us may be unfamiliar with. The story is essentially one huge chase sequence, which is both the book's strength and (for me) a bit of its weakness. 

The story revolves around the pursuit of a young boy named Tom through the Outback by an evil man named Carver. We're given some backstory on the beef Carver has with Tom, but it's a bit underdeveloped. Looking back though, I wonder if that's because of the narrator's age. Tom is only a child, so maybe the nuance of why Carver is so awful isn't something Tom wonders about? (He's just consumed with the need to survive.) Regardless it was something *I* wondered about so I didn't love that the book skimmed over those details. 

The action scenes on the other hand are the book's strength, and they're well-written and descriptively vivid. Tom is a tracker and we get a great deal of insight into how to chase (and pursue) someone through the wild. That part of the book was fascinating. Word of warning though, this is a brutal story, with some gory moments (Carver, true to his name really doesn't mind hurting and killing living things) and some animals are wounded and killed along the way. I mention it because that feature can be a deal-breaker for some readers. 

Thanks to the author and NetGalley for granting me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Shepherd is a relatively short novel but my word does it pack a lot in. This novel is something totally different to what I usually read but I wanted to give it a try and I’m so pleased I did. From the very first page you are taken on an absolute rollercoaster experiencing numerous emotions as you champion little Tom Clay. I found this book impossible to pit down and would highly recommend it. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Text Publishing and the author for the chance to review.
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I was given this ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Thirteen year old Tom Clay has been sentenced to life on the Australian frontier, shepherding sheep, for the crime of poaching. He is the youngest out there and doesn't fit in. His father had told him over and over again how dangerous it is to talk, to keep quiet so as not to get caught. Tom knows that it's best to go unnoticed. 

There is a fellow camp mate who has committed many gruesome crimes, a violent man by the name of Carver. He's already murdered two of the other shepherds. Now he's killed Joe, set fire to the hut, and hunting Tom and another camp-mate, Rowdy. They make their way back to their boss's farm only to find that Carver has already murdered everyone there. Will they both survive or will they both perish? 

This book was a page turner. With Tom being so young and in so much danger, I found that I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. There are many twists and turns, surprises that I didn't see coming. I absolutely loved the end!
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Wow. I really enjoyed this book and had it read in a few hours. I couldn't put it down.
Im not sure what would make this a 5 but for now I'm giving it a four.

This story starts with 13 year old Tom Clay, imprisoned in Australia in 1840 for poaching and working as a shepherd. His best friend's his collie Gyb. He's too young to have seen and dealt with so much loss - his mother in childbirth, a brother murdered and his father hanged.

There is a lot of exposition but it's definitely needed. It really helps the reader grasp this young boy's life and what has made him far more mature for his age. As a reader, I would have thought of Tom as much older, early twenties, based on the way he carries himself but his back story explains it so well.

Tom has lost everyone already and now he's at risk of losing everything again. Dan Carver, a vicious man also sentenced to serve his punishment on the same grounds as Tom, is on a murderous rampage and wants to leave no witnesses behind, including young Tom.

Luckily, Tom is better equipped than Carver and he is eventually, although not without its moments, able to beat him. I have to admit that I cried throughout the entire pages when Gyb dies and Tom is burying her so carefully. You understand how alone Tom feels when his best friend passes on and he couldn't save her.

I wish there had been an earlier encounter or history of Tom with the Aboriginal tribes. I enjoyed that little tidbit at the end but I wanted just a little more.

I'm very impressed by this book and would highly recommend it as I literally could not put this down.
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This is a fast moving thriller set in the Australian outback in the mid nineteenth century and the novel can be summed up quite well as one giant chase scene. This is both a positive and a negative as whilst it does mean that there is non-stop action that doesn't really let up for a minute, it also means that there is a lack of depth to the events as there is never any time to sit back and savour the moment. The main characters are strong and leap off the page at you, the contrast between Carver's harsh brutality and Tom's more gentle and easy going manner striking and clear.

Jinks writes well and the novel is striking in its tight writing style, but I do wish there had been a little more chance to build on the characters and backgrounds; whilst there are flashbacks to Tom's past, these seem rushed and superfluous to the story rather than really bringing it to life. Because so much of the novel is focused on the battle between Carver and Tom, there isn't a lot of exploration of the time period or the setting. You certainly get the sense of the harshness of life, particularly for an ex 'lag' or convict, and the lack of further detail may be in part due to our lead character not having a full awareness of what different plants and animals are called.

So an interesting read, a little too focused on the action and the violence for my liking but I can imagine older teenagers enjoying the fast pace and gritty events. Be warned, the violence is graphic at points so this isn't a novel I would recommend for younger readers necessarily.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my review copy of this novel.
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I didn't love this one. The writing style seemed jumbled, which could have been the formatting of the kindle arc. I can see how other people might enjoy this book. It was interesting but the flashbacks didn't add much.
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When Tom Clay is caught poaching on private property at the age of 12 he is sentenced for seven years to go to New South Wales Australia. 
This book is based in the 1840's and goes into great detail about how the colonies worked at that time. 
The story of Tom and his new boss Rowdy Cavanagh is compelling and when Dan Carver turns up and wants to murder them both can just a young boy help save them from this murderer?
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What a story. It’s one that’s blindingly brilliant and epically addictive. I found myself unable to set this one aside and was still reading at 2.30 in the morning.

There’s an unforgiving force that engages in a tense and bitterly fierce pursuit of a young "Shepherd" and it reads with an intense alertness, as each scene is written with an urgency that mirrors a genuine threat that is but a whisper away. 

It uses every tool at its disposal: hostile terrain, fear, and volatile personalities. In turn, every action, hesitation, or misstep brings fresh intensity or misery.

Dan Carver’s brutal superiority is a stark contrast to Tom Clay’s quiet empathy, especially for the vulnerable beasts in his charge. Be warned, their clashes result in a harsh blow to the heart on more than one occasion. 

As it concluded I was left with the feeling of just how easy it is for us to judge one another, and why opinions could be better formed if they were influenced by our actions instead of labels.
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4.5 stars

Shepherd is historical fiction story set during 1840 in New South Wales.

Tom Clay is barely a teenager when caught poaching in Suffolk, and sent to an Australian penal colony for seven years. Taken on as a shepherd, Tom falls back on all he has learned from his hardened and ruthless father to survive in a dangerous land filled with desperate men.

One of his adversaries is Dan Carver, a murderer. Tom knows how Dan treats any surviving witnesses to his murders and flees to the bush with his dog and an Irish friend, in a perilous chase that can only end in death.

I could easily picture the violent and inhospitable conditions that convicts faced in the era and I understood how dangerous men might go to extremes to endure their punishment. Tom was a likeable character and I enjoyed learning more about him as the author slipped in details of Tom’s life back in Suffolk.

I liked reading about Tom’s poaching skills and how he put them to good use in the inevitable confrontation with Dan. I could also empathise with Tom over his frustrations that no one could teach him about the flora and fauna of this strange land.

Overall, this story is a well-written piece that depicts some of the horrors which, no doubt, faced many of the thousands of men, women and children who were subjected to transportation to the Australian colony.
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An awesome historical thriller. Check it out!  I hope many readers check out this great piece. I loved reading this novel.
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Starts a bit slow but picked up the pace turning into quite a read. The novel is focused on a cat and mouse game between two shepherds. Not what I usually read but interesting nonetheless.
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I received a free electronic copy of this excellent historical novel on November 15, 2019, from Netgalley, Catherine Jinks, and Text Publishing.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.  I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my personal, honest opinion of this work.  I am pleased to recommend Catherine Jinks as an author to follow to friends and family. 

We are in New South Wales in the 1840s with a young Englishman, a shepherd named Tom Clay and a couple of his dogs, Gyp, a black and white Scotch collie, and Pedlar, a yellow mongrel.  Tom considers these dogs all the family he has left.  NSW is pretty bleak and wild - Tom and his fellow shepherds are hired to protect their flock of sheep from native Blacks, wild dogs, and blackguards.  He has a couple of people he can actually depend on in NSW - Mr. Barrett, owner of the land, the flock, and the shepherd's hut they sleep in when it's not their turn sleeping in the watch-box.  Fellow shepherd Joe Humble seems to be an honorable man.  Tom also trusts Rowdy, a fairly new addition to the group of shepherds of Mr. Barrett sheep.  Except for the periodic deliveries of a cartload of supplies, the shepherds stay in the brush with their flock which they protect and move as the grass becomes grazed down.   

In the 1840s a lot of the residents of NSW were prisoners shipped out of England.  Caught poaching in his early teens, Tom was a boy who lost his mother in his youth, son of a  hanged poacher, brother of a shot poacher. Many of the prisoners sent out to Australia and New South Wales were very much more of a threat than a teenaged poacher.  And many of them have fallen through the cracks and are now a threat to all the honest settlers of these South Pacific Island nations.  Tom is learning to recognize them.  That may save his life.  And a lesson learned the hard way - only animals are completely trustworthy.  They also only have one life to give... Not good odds for Tom's survival.
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I didn't like this book at all. Very bleak and violent and never endingly desolate and desperate.. Some reviewers have suggested that is is aimed at YA but I wouldn't have wanted to read this when I was YA age.
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Tom Clay is a young English boy from Suffolk who gets pinched and tried for poaching to survive – he is sentenced to serve out his time in the foreign land of New South Wales, Australia. Tom is stationed at a shepherd’s hut where he becomes painfully aware that he is but a boy living in the company of very violent men. Preferring the company of beasts and nature he steers clear of people who talk to much – like Rowdy Cavanaugh, the new hand. Dan Carver is a killer who relishes causing suffering and he’s coming for Tom & Rowdy. Can Tom outwit Carver with his impressive instincts about the world he lives in – even when it’s foreign- AND get Rowdy to shut up long enough to not get caught?

I have never read a novel by Catherine Jinks but I can definitely see myself reading her other novels if they are anything like this one. Shepherd is a very fast-paced novel and allows you to get lost in Tom’s experiences. This book is in a time period and setting that are very different from the novels I usually read but that definitely doesn’t make it any less interesting. If anything it makes the events of the book just that much more harrowing for Tom, things are quite different in this era than that of the Victorian era. His experiences (confrontational and regular day to day) are very well written and bring his character to life.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of suspense, thriller and possibly to those who enjoy Victorian era fiction with the previous elements. This book does have some potential sensitive subjects – animal cruelty, people cruelty, race and death descriptions but for the time period I don’t believe to be considered out of the ordinary. Thank you to NetGalley & Text Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a tension filled suspense fest which really grabbed my attention. It was fast moving and really made me want to know what was going to happen next. Although it did start a little slow, it more than made up for it towards the middle as the action started. Although it’s almost a historical fiction, I found it quite easy to follow what was happening and the writing really helped with immersing me in that sort of lifestyle.
The scariness comes from the characters, and also the horrible violence and gore which happens. This definitely isn’t for the faint hearted.
I found Tom a very strong lead character and his love for animals made him quite endearing. It was nice to see a strong teenage character.
Although I wouldn’t consider myself the hugest fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed this for its scariness and tension, which appeals to my gothic horror taste.
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This is an action packed read, with a fast pace to it.  Very strong characters and a steadily increasing suspense to it.  Very intense but definitely worth sticking with.
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