Some novels are so good that we beg for sequels, in order to meet the characters again and find out what happened to them. The Sea-wreck Stranger (2007) created an unexpected but plausible post-holocaust world of tiny, mutually-hostile settlements. Ebony Hill (2010) showed how suspicion led to further violence that threatened to extinguish the last sparks of civilisation on the mainland. In Finder’s Shore, Anna Mackenzie completes this moving trilogy by bringing Ness back to the grim island of Dunnett where her adventure began.
Three years have elapsed since Ness saved Dev’s life and helped him escape from Dunnett. Now Ness is a fully-trained medic, hardened by her experiences during the fighting around Ebony Hill. When she makes the dangerous rail trip back to Vidya (surviving ambush) Ness discovers that the government leaders have agreed that the mainland must resume trading with Dunnett. Food is short a, the back-country farm settlements are menaced by marauders and there is little choice. Dev is fearful that Vidya’s leaders don’t understand the total control exerted by the autocratic Colm and his followers, who dominate Dunnett as its spiritual and political leaders. It is against this tense background that Ness and Ronan agree to see if negotiations are possible. They slip ashore near Leewood, ness’s childhood home, but much has changed in three years. Colm has confiscated her uncle’s farm and her cousin Sophie has adjusted to the changed conditions but is still bitterly resentful, ‘Your defection nearly destroyed us Ness.’ Their undercover mission puts Ness and Ronan’s lives in danger as they struggle with the power of Colm’s rule. With informants everywhere on the island, there is death and violence ahead. Despite this sombre background, Finder’s Shore comes to an optimistic conclusion with Ness discovering an alternative way by which their fragile civilisation can be maintained, and a new hope is born.
The experience of re-reading all three books has confirmed the skill of the author as a compelling storyteller. Ness is an appealing heroine and the story brings her to romantic fulfilment as well as personal success. The full story is a saga of survival and the quest to keep knowledge alive, which makes it an interesting analogy for our own times. This is a splendid ending to an intriguing and original trilogy.