As a two-year-old child, British author Evie Wyld went into a coma that lasted half a day. The reason: viral encephalitis. The disease took two weeks to work its way through her nervous system. As a result of her brain being “cooked”—her word choice—slower brain waves mandated seizure medicine through her adolescence.
Curiously enough, it just so happens that lower frequency brain waves are associated with relaxation and a daydream state. I found Wyld’s second novel, All The Birds Singing (Vintage Books, 2013), has a dream-like quality that parallels this condition. “Australia is the place that I write from. For me it’s the first place that I go to when I’m thinking creatively,” she told The Guardian in 2014. Not surprisingly then, this novel is based in rural Australia, orbiting around the area’s rich shepherding tradition.
Jake Whyte, a female sheep shearer, is on the run, and from what, we don’t know until halfway through the novel. It’s a narrative written in two different times, splitting the past into fragmented stories that suggest how Jake has wound up in her present position, with a weakness for whiskey, a suspicion of people in general, and a growing concern for her own flock of sheep, who are getting brutally attacked by an unknown predator.