Some novels are crafted with such care that it seems a shame reviewers should get to paw them before readers have the chance to admire their intricacy. Evie Wyld’s second novel, All the Birds, Singing, is designed to make us lose our bearings, and not just because its opening pages introduce us to a man named Clare and a woman named Jake. The latter, the novel’s heroine and narrator, is a lonely Australian sheep farmer on an unspecified British island. In the past month, two of her ewes have been killed; she suspects local children with little better to do than flash her at the bus stop. But this isn’t what’s causing her to break down in tears or scream out in the night – the reason for that lies in an episode from her childhood that Wyld keeps us guessing about for the length of this ingeniously constructed narrative.
Thirty-two short chapters alternate between the present and the past. In the first thread, Jake tries to get to the bottom of who or what is killing her sheep. The second, which begins three years previously and moves further back in time to her childhood, shows us why Jake left