Review: Thyla by Kate Gordon

Publication Date: April 1st, 2011
Random House Australia
Format: Paperback, 287 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
“My name is Tessa. I am strong. I am brave. I do not cry. These are the only things I know for certain. I was found in the outback, ragged as a wild thing. I have no memory; not even of how I got the long slashes across my back. They make me frightened of what I might remember. The policewoman, Connolly, found me; and placed me; in a boarding school and told me about her daughter, Cat, who went missing in the outback. I think there is a connection between Cat, me, and the strange things going on at this school. If I can learn Cat’s story, I might discover my own and stop it happening again.”
A thrilling paranormal tale of shapeshifting, a centuries-old war, and              finding out who you really are when your memories betray you.

Tessa woke up without a single memory of who she was. No family, no identity. The only truth she knew deep into the marrow of her bones is that she’s a strong person, incapable of tears and she’s fearless. Little by little, snaps of recollections come back to her as she’s thrust into a mysterious world inside and outside of the boarding school she was forced into – a school, which held more memories of who she was than she cared to remember.
The synopsis wasn’t very forthcoming; I had no clue what I was getting into when I started reading. As a result, I was overly anxious for the mystery to unfold and Kate Gordon took her sweet old time revealing what kind of paranormal creatures she has on the offing. She took lycanthrope and spun with a bit creepier factor than normal. It was definitely different. I think that having the setting somewhere much novel (novel to me, anyway) added to the mystery. Port Arthur (Van Diemen’s Land), Tasmania was a penal colony and the hardened British and Irish criminals’ destination back in the days. You can just imagine how Gordon wove this history into her novel.
It took almost the entirety of the book for the revelation to come; most of the story really focused on Tessa’s memory recovery. It was a jigsaw puzzle – intricate but very slow in giving pieces of clues away. Lucky for me, the book isn’t really hefty. While the writing flowed smoothly, I was encumbered with the unhurried speed of the plot. And I understand that the primary reason was because it’s the initial offering of the series, ergo, the author spent some time with the set up. I also think that because this story was told in a journal entry form, the sparse dialogues contributed to the tedium. 
VERDICT: This is my first Australian paranormal that I managed to finish. To be honest, this is probably far more superior to the other shape-shifting books on my shelves. But a story needs to grab me right off the bat and hold my interest for the entirety of the novel. Unfortunately, this book didn’t.