THE TALLY STICK
Named in The Listener Top 100 Books, 2020
Top 10 selling NZ Fiction for six months
Completely compelling … really masterful writing
On Radio NZ
the novel is taut and well-plotted, balancing a mounting sense of dread with unexpected payoffs, and dancing across two parallel storylines….Nixon’s satisfying book suggests that the myriad and sometimes shifting obligations we have to one another, as well as the things that we specifically owe, aren’t mere transactions. Instead, they form the meat and sinew of our relationships, however tangled those relationships may be.
Penguin Random House, NZ
Editions de l'Aube, France, 2021
Translation by Benoite Dauvergne
The Tally Stick is an efficient, gripping story, a Kiwi Gothic thriller that is confidently and economically told. It is probably his strongest novel. It would also make a hell of a movie, or better yet, a TV series. Nixon has things to say about adaptation and identity, about family and home, about colonialism and the new rituals and beliefs we might adopt or invent in a new land (the author has a religious studies qualification), but he lets these and other themes glide under the surface like one of his giant eels.
Academy of New Zealand Literature
This is the best kind of novel: complex, contemplative, upsetting, written with an ease and flow that makes it a compelling read.
The writing in The Tally Stick is evocative, you can smell the native bush, see the birds, feel the soggy forest floor. There is much that the reader must fill in for themselves. It is a read full of conflict, violence, and dread, but there is also beauty and kindness, and the switching back and forth gives it an inevitability that puts the characters in the frame of a morality play. I am not going to say anything else about the story – you will have to, and should, read it yourself.
Nelson Public Library
Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel – there are echoes of any number of stories involving the trope of children who are orphaned or at least temporarily and perilously separated from their parents. Babes in the woods, these abandoned youngsters become a miniature family, struggling to survive with their various impediments.
a very good novel …. a beautiful adventure story … The construction of the plot is particularly effective and pleasant for the reader, it allows the story to advance without being too lengthy and without sinking into the traditional overdone horror scenes.
Benzine (re French Edition)