Tally Stick, The

Nixon, Carl

  32 Reviews

Given the lushness of West Coast vegetation, it is no surprise to hear that back in 1978 when the Chamberlain family - John, Julia and their four children - were in an accident, their car was never recovered. So how on earth was it possible that in 2010 the remains of one of the children were found, with evidence that Maurice had lived for four years after the crash. How was this possible and where was the rest of the family? And why was Maurice in possession of a tally stick, indicating that he owed a debt?

Told from multiple viewpoints, this evocative story of adaptation and identity is so believable that it will have you wondering if in fact these events did occur.



CHCH 488
We all thought this book was brilliant, though not necessarily enjoyable. Dark and creepy and told in such a way we were totally convinced it could happen. Months later we are all still thinking about it.
AUCK 085
A book that had suspense and made us want to find out what happened to the children.
TAUR 035
No-one really enjoyed this story - bleak overall. Too may inconsistencies and loose ends in the plot, but very descriptive writing. A good idea which just didn't quite live up to expectations.
Very good book, very thought-provoking, engendered much discussion in the group. Initially the first part was rather difficult as it was so detailed with so many characters. But it became a gripping story.
CHCH 240
A mixed reaction from our group, some describing the story as "horrible"; "gruesome"; and "sad", but at the same time intriguing. A great discussion about how this could have happened and related it to other similar situations in the past and even today. It left a lot of unanswered questions and posed differing ideas.
The writing was well paced; the setting well described and credible; the situation (plot) rather weird and forbidding. Some felt the conclusion unsatisfactory but no-one could think of a better one. All looked forward to reading more of his work.
Everyone enjoyed the book - some put it at a 4, others 4.5. We found the story and the writing engaging. Good discussion about the West Coast and its peculiarities. Intrigue and speculation about who was Kate's first baby's father, and why did she return from Hokitika once she'd escaped, and what would have happened had Kate and Suzanne come face to face at the end...
WANG 015
We found it very eerie and unsettling as we could all picture it so clearly! It was so beautifully descriptive. The whole group found this a very good read.
Three-quarters of our group thoroughly enjoyed The Tally Stick, we related to the description of the landscape and the remoteness of the South Westland. An easy read, an intriguing story and a realistic but brutal end. Those who rated it lower couldnt forgive the holes in the story, the lack of development of characters, the implausible lack of communication between the siblings with too many loose ends. We all agreed we liked the authors writing style and would read more of his work.
Comments from our group ranged from thought-provoking, bleak, not very credible through to plausible, an easy read, enjoyable. Our discussion centred on the possibility of this situation happening today....... causing a very animated conversation amongst the group.
NEWP 016
We all really enjoyed this book, the characters, storyline and even the gaps. It was well paced and an absorbing read. Created provocative thinking
Well-written gripping story enjoyed by the majority of the group.
A real page turner! There were quite varying views on this book - it was very dark, but great writing, and certainly you could be right there! I will not forget this book.
An easy read with good imagery of the West Coast. Parts of it not very believable. Probably not one we would recommend.
TURA 001
A great story - which could easily be a non fiction story! Most couldn't put the book down. A page turner!
A compelling start and a story that kept us all interested. The author had a good descriptive style of writing. We did feel that there were gaps and loose ends in the story development and these left some of us feeling unsatisfied.
All members were keen to read a novel set in our own backyard, though some were a little disappointed (or more frustrated) that the setting was only loosely based on the area; that we could not pinpoint a place where the accident and resulting events may have exactly taken place. Nevertheless, all agreed that it was a page turner, probably the first novel we've had where we all finished it in a couple of days! The issues of relationships, abuse and indentured labour generated a lot of discussion, with many finer details identified as a group to help make sense of some inconclusive content.
TAUR 005
An absorbing story, black and dark but well-written. The members found the setting authentic. Characters well drawn but men in particular not attractive.
'The Tally Stick' generated conversation in our group. Most found the premise of a disappearance in bush most believable. The writing was convincing and the ending a great twist. The degree of abuse and neglect was hard to read but was starkly described. We are keen to read more of this author's books.
This book produced vigorous discussion, and in the end a rating that was little at odds with some of the views expressed. We liked the strength of the prose, the strong sense of place - notably the portrayal of the New Zealand bush, and to a degree, the characterisation... The book is very readable, and indeed gripping, but its trajectory, the big picture and themes are hinted at but not satisfactorily resolved. Perhaps it is simply a thriller, to be read and enjoyed as a story; but the darkness, blood and general creepiness make it hard to do that.
Largely enjoyed, a good read provoking a lot of discussion. Mixed feelings about the outcome, unknowns and locality, but recommended.
AUCK 272
Very dark book. You could tell it was written by a man. Easy read, big print.
AUCK 055
Most of the group enjoyed the book - compelling, strong sense of place, disturbing, believable and absorbing. A couple of people did not rate the book highly - too predictable, and the depth of story not developed.
Most members agreed it was a compelling read. Not the most enjoyable story, but well crafted though, and so believable. Some couldn't put the book down.
NEWP 022
All agreed that the writer did an excellent job of writing the story as all wanted to keep reading despite the unpleasant topic. One reader did point out that falling off a cliff seemed a simple end compared to the other twists and turns of the story. Overall a good read and we always like to read a New Zealand novel.
CHCH 508
Apart from one dissenter, this book was thoroughly enjoyed. Well crafted.
TAUP 011
The group all enjoyed the book, but found the storyline quite upsetting. The description was vivid and transported you to the situation. Most couldn't put the book down, and some went back and re read it, as it left you wondering about how and why some situations occurred. Overall a good read but very sad.
The Book Club members had a good discussion of the book. We thought the setting had a malevolence which set the scene for the story that followed. The survival of the fittest was suggested with regard to the West Coast in the 1970s/80s. Despite that, the description of the landscape was poetic at times. The accident was believable, we found similarities to a recent accident in the North island, where a motorist left the road and down a bank in dense bush. In summary, we thought it was a well-written atmospheric novel with Darwinian overtones.
STEW 001
Evocation of atmosphere was skillfully done. Plot development quite compelling - the reader wanted to read on.....
TAUR 004
Everyone thought this book a great read. Gripping and atmospheric. Most read it all at once because they couldn't put it down. Realistic and suspenseful. Descriptive writing put the reader right into the setting.
Mixed review - some felt a bit 'flaky'. More of a 'short' story. But loved the West Coast aspect.
All except one enjoyed this book. We found the book easy to read and difficult to put down. A great storyline which kept you guessing throughout.