"-A violent imagination for the macabre and horrifying.
"-A tough Australian humour.
"-A sensitivity capable of understanding child and cripple and devil.
"It sounds an impossible assignment, but Thomas Keneally has shown in this novel that he can manage it all.
"Joseph, the boy caught up in the battle between Catholic and Communist, and in an escape in Australia of Japanese prisoners of World War II, is brought face to face with evil in the clear Australian sunlight.
"It is a confrontation few writers have dared to make, but Keneally also has the gift of magnanimity.
"His devils are also human."
Next door to us, crowded on the east and west by largo houses, was the Mantles' narrow little brick place. It seemed to be subsiding crookedly into the earth like an ill-laid tombstone, and was a sunless warren, dim humidity in summer, dim moisture in winter. The laneway to its back door ran flush against our side wall, and beneath the Mantles' lounge-room window, a furze of moss grew a quarter of inch thick on the mortar.
From the Sun Books paperback edition, 1967.
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Last modified: March 26, 2001.