30 Dec / Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy [in Booklist]
Seasoned narrator Barrie Kreinik showcases her prowess as a dialect coach as she embodies Charlotte McConaghy’s vast cast around the world from Australia to Ireland to Greenland, traversing quickly emptying terrains and oceans. Making her adult fiction debut, McConaghy introduces Franny Stone, an untethered wanderer who arrives in Greenland hoping to track the last flock of migratory Arctic terns. She talks herself onto the well-traveled Saghani, joining a less-than-welcoming misfit crew led by a captain in whom Franny recognizes another desperate lost soul. While tracking both fish and fowl, Franny writes desperate letters to her estranged husband, a renowned Irish professor of ornithology. Her peripatetic backstory is slowly revealed – her dysfunctional childhood, her missing mother, her avian obsessions, her ambulatory nightmares, her anguished relationship with deeply beloved Niall.
While Kreinik empathically, consistently ciphers rootless Franny, she’s even more impressive in maintaining distinctively recognizable personalities, quirks, and accents for the Saghani inhabitants, deftly differentiating even in the midst of all-crew impassioned discussions and bewildering arguments: the just-controlled captain Ennis, frustrated Léa, contemptible Basil, struggling Anik, and the many others. Back on land, Kreinik is achingly affecting as bewildered Niall and his fragmenting mother, Penny. With deft agility, Kreinik guides McConaghy’s spectacular Moby Dick-esque journey towards an all-too-imminent dystopia in which humanity faces a future alone.
Review: modified from “Media,” Booklist, December 15, 2020