Sydney Bridge Upside Down – David Ballentyne

cv_sydney_bridge_upside_downREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Sophia

A dark story set in the sleepy coastal town of Calliope Bay where the children play in the abandoned slaughterhouse and welcome the allure of their city cousin.

❍ “Many of us were required to read New Zealand fiction as teenagers as an exercise in social studies. The upholstery of the New Zealand setting (pioneers, pungas and sheep) and our tradition of social realism in fiction can seem familiar and perhaps a bit dull. Sydney Bridge Upside Down is a novel that completely unsettles this familiar landscape. Not for a long time have I been so thoroughly unnerved by but also enamoured with a novel. A fantastic summer read because it evokes the long hot summers of childhood and then infuses them with a New Zealand-ish kind of horror that was never mentioned in your social studies textbook.” – Sophia

❍ “A beautiful sinister book set “on the edge of the world” in Calliope Bay. A thrilling book which highlights dark issues that we would rather not talk about. I loved the pace of this book and once finished I had to re-read immediately for clues I had missed along the way. This book is a must read but may not be for the faint hearted.” – Becks

❍ “How had I not heard about this book before now?! I feel like I have missed out on something wonderful for too long. I was totally riveted by Sydney Bridge Upside Down. Ballantyne manages to tactfully capture issues that weren’t talked about when the book was published in 1968 and unfolds the tension layer by enigmatic layer. The characters are expertly built and then their relationships deconstructed piece by piece leaving the bare bones of the truth. This is a masterpiece and should be compulsory high school reading as far as I’m concerned.” – Rachel

❍ “I found this book strangely foreboding with the omnipresence of the old man and his horse watching and knowing what is really going on and the old meat works as a dangerous playground. Our narrator is unreliable and my understanding of Harry changes as does my feelings for him. The uncomfortable mischief that goes on with the children, Harry and his cousin as well as the local rogue built tension and kept it tight the whole way through until the dark truth is slowly and delightfully revealed. A very enjoyable book with buckets of expertly crafted tension. Surprising that it is not more widely know.” – Jo

First published 1968 by Whitcombe & Tombs
Reprinted 2013 by Text Publishing
304 pages

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