Winner – Best Debut Book


Author: Leah Swann

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Ava and her two young sons, Max and Teddy are heading to a new life in a small town called Sheerwater. Ava has just left her husband Lawrence and there’s a sense of tension, with Ava already looking over her shoulder. Then a light plane crashes in a field alongside the road and Ava is compelled to help. She leaves her boys in the car, but when she returns the boys are gone. Ava suspects that Lawrence has taken them…but how? He has a solid alibi. The police appear sceptical of her story. The dread builds as we discover more about Ava, Lawrence and their relationship through the voices of multiple characters, including eldest son Max. Swann’s writing is subtle which makes the narrative developments even more frightening. The finale leaves readers in a dark, ambiguous place, and sparked questions among the judges. Sheerwater is a standout, and we look forward to reading more from Leah Swann.

Publisher page here.