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By Charlotte McConaghy

It’s not often that beauty goes with dystopia. But author Charlotte McConaghy weaves them into a magnificent novel that also gives birth to hope.

Franny Stone is an untrained ornithologist obsessed with Arctic terns. These tiny birds migrate from the Arctic to Antarctica and back, one of the longest migration paths of any birds. She discovered them through her husband, Niall Lynch, an ornithologist teaching at a university in Galway, Ireland.

But Franny, Niall and the other characters in this book live in a world where the Arctic terns are going extinct — along with many other animals edged out of habitat, food, survivable temperature zones by global warming. There’s only a single gray wolf left alive in captivity. Yellowstone National Park is empty of animals. The lions haven’t survived multiple droughts. An estimated 80% of the world’s wild animal life has died.

Franny is on a mission to follow what may be the last Arctic terns migrating to Antarctica. But to do that she needs a ship — and a way to convince its captain there’s a reason to follow the terns as well.

She puts tracking bands on the legs of three terns. Then she finds a ship, the Saghani, which is the Inuit word for  “raven.” Its captain, Ennis Malone, is just crazy enough and just hungry enough for one last good haul of vanishing fish to agree to her plan: the terns and their tracking devices will lead them to the fish.

Franny is a wanderer, too. Her Irish mother gave birth to her in a small Australian town on the edge of nowhere. She is raised by a stoic, undemonstrative paternal grandmother. She leaves Australia for Galway, searching for her mother’s family and a place to belong.

If it’s love she’s searching for, she finds it in Niall Lynch. They marry the night of their first kiss. But even their love isn’t enough to make her settle. Her need to wander grows more intense after their first child, a daughter, is stillborn.

“I didn’t see the point in staying in any one place after that. I only ever tried once more, many years later when I met a man called Niall Lynch and we loved each other with brands to our names and bodies and souls.”

Ultimately, Franny and the crew of the Saghani become outlaws when commercial fishing is banned worldwide. The crew of the Saghani is angry about the loss of their livelihood but uncertain about Franny’s mad mission.

McConaghy weaves the story of the Saghani’s seemingly doomed voyage to Antarctica with Franny’s lonely, loss-filled upbringing, her unexpected and passionate marriage and a world transforming drastically by climate change.

MIGRATIONS is a love story, a search, a homecoming and a redemption. It is a marvelous read.

About the Author: Charlotte McConaghy

Author Charlotte McConaghy is an Australian author who lives in Sydney. She has written eight books published in Australia.

MIGRATIONS is her first adult literary novel.
She is currently working on a new novel about a biologist charged with using wolves to “rewild” a landscape and bring a forest in the Scottish Highlands back to life.
In an interview, she said that through her research she learned that “in the last 50 years alone we have killed over 60 percent of the planet’s wild animals.”
She has a master’s degree in screenwriting from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.


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