Review: Paris Savages by Katherine Johnson

In Paris Savages, Australian author Katherine Johnson tells the story of a shameful and little known--but extremely important--part of Australian history. The year is 1882. The Badjala people have been facing many problems since white settlers arrived in their island home K'Gari (a place which contemporary readers may also know as Fraser Island,) including the fact that their population has faced a steady decline due to a number of massacres and also illnesses. Among the white settler population on the island is German scientist Louis Muller and his daughter Hilda. Louis has received an offer--for him to take three of the Badjala people with him and Hilda to Europe--where they will perform as part of a human exhibition for large crowds. Louis welcomes the idea, believing that it will help, rather than harm them. Meanwhile, three of the Badjala people agree--Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera--mostly because headstrong Bonny believes that he will be able to meet with the queen and tell her that he's had enough of what is happening on K'Gari. Meanwhile, it only Louis' daughter, twelve year old Hilda, who has doubts about the whole thing--and for a very good reason, as the narrative soon shows.

Meticulously researched and written with a lot of empathy, Katherine Johnson expertly tells a story of cruel injustice, and how even those with good intentions can get things so very, very wrong. Readers will no doubt be compelled by Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera and for good reason.

This will leave you devastated in the way that only a well researched work of historical literary fiction can.

Recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019.

Thank you to Ventura Press for my copy of Paris Savages.

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