Fed to Red Birds
by Rijn Collins
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Pub Date 08 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 11 Jan 2023
Simon & Schuster (Australia), Simon & Schuster Australia
Longlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2024
Elva loves Iceland for many reasons – the epic landscape of gods and volcanoes, weather that’s the polar opposite of her home in Australia, and the fact that it’s where her mother might have gone back to when she disappeared. Iceland is where Elva’s beloved grandfather – the famous children’s book author – lives in a remote village and where the beings that haunt her imagination reside.
Elva is interested in the odd things people make – Victorian collectibles, old spells, taxidermy, fairy tales. The weird, the wonderful and the sometimes macabre. She’s got a few quirks of her own that she’s (mainly) keeping under control. Except one.
Working in a shop of curiosities, studying at an Icelandic language school, Elva begins to explore her obsessions, and when her grandfather suffers a stroke, they threaten to overtake her. Then she meets Remy, a painter who’s got some secrets of his own …
In her captivating debut, Rijn Collins has created a beautifully evocative portrait of an enchanted mind in an enchanting place – a story of everyday magic, both dark and light; of families and the shadows they can cast; of the delights and dangers of the imagination. Fed to Red Birds will transport you to remote corners of both the world and the human heart.
‘Intensely evocative and beautiful.’ Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rights
'Rijn Collins is a writer of great humanity and intelligence who has fashioned a vividly realised portrait of a young woman trying to make a life for herself in the shadow of familial trauma and dysfunction.' Simon McDonald, Kill Your Darlings
‘Fed to Red Birds is dreamy and immersive … both travelogue and beautifully written literary fiction. It is for readers who loved the insightful prose and armchair travel of Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au and the brooding, fairytale-esque feelings of Hydra by Adriane Howell.’ Books+Publishing
'[T]he sense of place in this novel is spellbinding – as is Collins’s prose in describing it.' Australian Book Review
'[L]ost in this book, I have only put it down for long enough to write this column, and am already missing Iceland and Elva terribly ... I feel I am typing this with frost-bitten fingers while being watched by trolls.' The Canberra Times
'Fed to Red Birds is a quietly haunting novel that leads us to ponder our histories and genealogies, and how we hold onto the past through our obsessions and compulsions.' Better Reading
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
Fed to Red Birds was a story quite different and interesting, so it immediately caught and held my attention when I started reading. At first I wondered if it would go off in a magical realism direction, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, I would describe it as a book focused on the role our imagination can play in the way we view the world and how this can have both positive and negative effects. Elva is a character who needs to come to terms with a past both real and imagined in order to move forward in her life. Although a part of me regretted that the magical realism angle I'd envisioned didn't come, I still found the story thought provoking and intriguing, well paced and with pleasing prose. As an aside, I visited Iceland in 2015 and loved it there, so it was also enjoyable for me to read place names I recognised, bringing back memories of that trip. Overall, I am giving this book four stars. Recommended if you like literary fiction with a quirky twist.