“In the Company of Madness” follows a variety of characters who travelled to Australia when it was a convict colony. Author R.B.R. Verhagen has created a bleak world that is in stark contrast to the country we know and love today. Verhagen does not sugar coat the colonisation of Australia. He paints a world that is gritty and grim; a world where only the desperate would want to go. And the characters within this world are as weathered and broken as the country they inhabit. Verhagen has cleverly crafted the characters so you are sympathetic towards them and are heartbroken by their circumstances. They are just so real. There is a real humanity to this book that you do not get from history textbooks.
I read this book slowly, in snatches here and there, so I could spend time meditating on the words I had just read. Verhagen’s use of language is beautiful and subtle, and I can see he has matured in his writing since “Murder at the Mountain Rush”. Verhagen is a writer who is heading into his prime and is surely one to watch in the future.
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