India Dark, by Kirsty Murray

Daisy opened her mouth and lies flew out. Her face so pink and white, her lips so plump and sweet, her lies so vile. I had to cover my ears>
I shut my eyes, wanting to block out the courtroom, to neither see nor hear the evil: but Tilly grabbed my arm and twisted the skin on my wrist in a Chinese burn.
‘Poesy Swift,’ she whispered, her breath hot against my neck, ‘open your eyes, and take that look off your face. We will never get home if you ruin everything.’

When Poesy Swift has the opportunity to join a travelling performance troupe, she is excited. She will get to see the world, singing and dancing, and earning some money for her family – the family she can’t wait to get away from. But when the trip heads to India instead of America, as planned, the trip takes a turn for the worse. As India simmers with the tension of a crumbling Empire, the troupe is also gradually torn apart by ill fortune and by tension.

Set in 1910, and based on the true story of the Lilliputian Opera Company, this is a story of adventure, and coming of age. Murray brings the period and the settings to life, using dual viewpoint characters supported by a strongly fleshed out cast of players. At times the reader is asked to choose which of the two main characters to believe as the onetime friends grow increasingly apart and each interprets the other’s actions in different ways. This adds a layer of interest which keeps the reader absorbed.

Like Murray’s earlier historical novels, the tale is both believable and intriguing.

India Dark, by Kirsty Murray
Allen & Unwin, 2010