Number of pages: 267
At first, this story of a boy who runs away from home made me think of Willy Vlautin's Lean on Pete. The premise was that the man character, Jaxie, had lost his mother, and had an abusive father, so was running away across Australia to be with his cousin. It transpired through a series of flashbacks, which gave the book a disturbing angle, was that Jaxie and his cousin were in an incestuous relationship.
The book started off by describing Jaxie's travels (much of this involved him killing kangaroos for food) with regular flashbacks to his family life, until the point where he reached the shepherd's hut of the title. At this point, the narrative told of Jaxie's relationship with an Irish priest called Fintan, who had been living in the hut on his own. It appeared that he had been sent there against his will, although the exact reason never seemed to be divulged.
The third segment of the book took the narrative in a completely new direction, as it introduced a threat in the form of drug dealers.
The narrative style made the book challenging at times; it was written entirely from Jaxie's point of view, and in a format similar to a journal. The writing style conveyed the sense that Jaxie was poorly educated, by not including speech marks when characters spoke, which added to the challenge involved in reading. I also noticed that a few words were consistently spelled wrong - "et" instead of "eat" and "could of" instead of "could have".
I really enjoyed this book; it proved to be something of a slow-burner, as not a lot really happened, but I found the narrative compelling. The only real problem I had was that the ending seemed to come quite abruptly, and the pace seemed to speed up near the end; I had to read the last few pages about three times to make sure I'd not missed anything. But I'd definitely recommend this book.
Next book: Normal People (Sally Rooney)