#TasmanianLitMonth – The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

Kyle Perry
Photo credit: Penguin Random House

About Kyle Perry

Kyle Perry is a drug and alcohol counsellor based in Hobart, Tasmania. He has grown up around the Tasmanian bush and seas, with the landscape a key feature of his writing and his spare time. He loves the sea, and his entire leg is covered in ocean tattoos.
His debut novel, The Bluffs, has been translated into five languages. It was shortlisted for the Dymocks Book of the Year and the Indie’s Debut Fiction Book of the Year, and was longlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards’ General Fiction Book of the Year.

Review written by Zane Pinner

The Bluffs (2021) by Kyle Perry is one of the most successful Tasmanian debut novels in recent years. This breath-taking, fast paced and well-crafted story shows how powerful our fear of the unknown can become and is packed with dark twists and red herrings.  

Several teenage girls disappear during a school trip to the wilderness around the Great Western Tiers, a dangerous mountain range in Tasmania’s sparsely populated North-West. It is the second time a group of girls has disappeared in the area, with the first disappearances still unsolved many years later. Legends persist about the menacing ‘Tall Man’ – a spirit who kidnaps any bush-walker that looks over their shoulder three times.  

The dark romanticism of the Tassie bush is not to be underestimated. This remote corner of the island, with its impenetrable scrub and jagged cliffs, provides the perfect setting for a spooky Tasmanian Gothic mystery. With its treacherous walking tracks, hidden hollows and haunted, ancient trees, the landscape is a menacing presence at the edge of rational light. For the people of Limestone Creek only one thing is certain; the wilderness cannot be trusted. 

As a police investigation unfolds, the motivations of the secretive locals and the grim small-town intrigue all ring very true. While the Great Western Tiers are an incredibly beautiful part of Australia, the small towns in the surrounding areas certainly have a gritty underside of crime and transgression. Tasmania’s contemporary lower-income rural communities have rarely been explored so honestly. 

One of my favourites aspects of The Bluffs is the authenticity of the dialogue. The way the characters speak in this book is a direct reflection of the way people talk in North-West Tasmania. As somebody who grew up not far from where the story is set, I felt like I recognised these people – they use the same phrases and inflections as my friends and cousins – and that made me feel very much at home in Perry’s book. A rare treat. 

Perry does a great job of first nudging the reader off-balance… and then sweeping their feet from under them. There are some excellent moments of revelation as the story unfolds. The tension builds methodically and is fully realised in a gripping, action-packed conclusion, making this a very satisfying yarn for crime and mystery readers. 

The audiobook version of the The Bluffs is also particularly good – Australian actor Rhys Muldoon’s narration is excellent, with perfectly-pitched gravity and distinctive character voices.  

About Zane

Zane Pinner is a Tasmanian author and filmmaker whose novel about a haunted cinema, Encore, continues the tradition of Tasmanian Gothic.

Shortlisted for the 2022 University of Tasmania Prize for the best new unpublished literary work by a Tasmanian writer, “Last Saturday in Invermay”.

Zane on Goodreads

Zane on Twitter

Support Zane’s work

Zane’s advertising agency – http://studioluckdragon.com/

About Guest Curator, Bec Taylor

I’m Bec Taylor, the EY3 – Grade 2 cybrarian* at the International School of Beijing, China. I’m a global nomad with Australian roots and a Chinese family home – all my immediate family have lived and worked in Beijing as international school teachers for many, many years.  

Overly enthusiastic about everything especially children’s literature, Australian Rules Football (go Doggies!) and food, glorious food, I am easily bribed with coffee and dark chocolate. I am a passionate advocate of social justice, female financial literacy, and finding ways to tread more lightly on the planet. Alongside the demands of a busy family and professional life, I enjoy cultivating community through volunteer work that focuses on healthy families.

I am the current Chair of the Chinese international schools reading promotion, the Panda Book Awards. Titles chosen for the shortlists of the Panda Book Awards meet selection criteria that focus on social justice, diversity and inclusion by up and coming authors and illustrators from across the world. There is an added spotlight on titles that feature Asian settings, characters or creators. 

Twitter is my favourite professional development space so please come find me there: @becinthelibrary

The educational hills I will die on are:

  • a child’s right to choose what they love to read,
  • there is serious magic in reading aloud,
  • and the belief that schools are happier, more equitable places with better academic outcomes when the properly funded school library is well staffed with qualified, collaborative and passionate professionals.

*a fancy name that formalises and acknowledges the incredible work teacher librarians do each day to find authentic ways to integrate and explore educational technology in order to capture, expand, and enhance student learning.

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