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Where You Left Us

2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

Brimming with a contemporary gothic sensibility, Where You Left Us is a fully realised story of family conflict, mental health and intimacy. Returning to her coastal childhood home for the summer before university, Scarlett Prince is thrust back into her family’s complex dynamics. Her older sister Cinnamon has been battling a sense of post-school inertia while supporting their former rock star father, who lives with depression. When Scarlett investigates their Great Aunt Sadie’s disappearance from many years ago, she forms a confusing alliance with Cinnamon’s best friend, and ex-boyfriend, Will. In the space that opens up, Cinnamon turns towards her work colleague, Daisy, with a combination of desire and trepidation. Scarlett turns in on herself, operating under a burden of steadily building anxiety, while hard-shelled Cinnamon struggles to show vulnerability and build intimacy. 

Written in lush and expressive prose, the vivid seaside setting of this novel mirrors the turmoil of its well-rounded cast of characters. Using a dual perspective narrative to eschew easy judgements or pronouncements, Where You Left Us skilfully navigates the tangled motivations and perspectives of two very different sisters.