Review: Up Against the Night by Justin Cartwright

Frank McAllister has long since dropped “Retief” as his middle name, but the legacy of his family’s history proves harder to shake. His ancestor Piet Retief, leader of the South African Great Trek, was killed by Zulu king Dingane in the 1838 massacre, along with a hundred men, women, and children. Afrikaner legend paints Retief as a homegrown Moses, bringing his people to the Promised Land. But Frank believes something rotten lies at the core of this family myth.

Frank spends his days in his London home with his new partner and her son and the products of his wealth. But the return of his daughter, Lucinda, from rehab in California brings him intense guilt: having sided with him during his divorce from her mother, she crumbled under the weight of the bitter separation. Lucinda has brought home with her a mysterious boy, and they will join the family trip to Frank’s beach house in South Africa–not far from the site of the 1838 massacre. In the lulls of their idyllic days, Frank unravels what really happened on that fateful day, and how it may connect to the violence of the apartheid years, and the violence encroaching on them even now.

Up Against the Night is an enthralling tale of personal conflict and intrigue, set against the backdrop of South Africa’s tangled past and troubled present, and told with tremendous color and insight. Absolutely original and gripping, it is destined to be as influential as JM Coetzee’s Disgrace.

This is my first book by Mr. Cartwright and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But I must say I enjoyed this book and will look into other titles by him.

It was set in South Africa which was very well described and made it easy to follow and feel like we were there.

The family in this book was insane and there were quite the few issues they had to deal with.

Most of the book read fast and was enjoyable but some parts  were a bit di drawn out and could have been a bit smaller so it would not make it boring and make one lose almost interest.  But that were just some parts.

The writing was good and easy to follow, the world building was also well done and I think I enjoyed that part the most about the book. There were some slower parts like I said but mostly it was a steady pace.

I rate it 3 ½ ★

*I received a free copy from the publisher and chose to leave a voluntary review. Thank you!*

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Justin Cartwright

Justin Cartwright
He was born in South Africa, where his father was the editor of the Rand Daily Mail newspaper, and was educated there, in the United States and at Trinity College, Oxford. Cartwright has worked in advertising and has directed documentaries, films and television commercials. He managed election broadcasts, first for the Liberal Party and then the SDP-Liberal Alliance during the 1979, 1983 and 1987 British general elections. For his work on election broadcasts, Cartwright was appointed an MBE.

Cartwright lives in London with his wife, Penny, and two sons.

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