While, Scott is a gifted storyteller, I wasn't able to connect with his characters. The characters all felt sort of superfical to me, like they had no depth. This was mainly because there are so many characters and Scott spends a little time telling the background of each one of them. They all had unique and interesting stories but I just didn't feel any connection with any of them. And I love a good character based story.
The main character in the story is Bobby, a Noongar boy, whom the story follows through old age. I was hoping that Scott would give more substance to Bobby, but I found that he was more of the archetype for The Fool character (his was a gifted performer in the story). There were times when I felt that Bobby character was starting to grow and deviate from The Fool character, only to fail. Even to the end, Bobby never really seemed to grasp the reality that increase number of European settlers and the rules they were imposing would mean to him and his people.
Now, the writing in That Deadman Dance is beautiful. Scott is a very gifted writer. In fact, the writing is what saved this story for me. But I will caution that it is not an easy read. This is literary fiction at its finest. I had to read this in bits and pieces and really take my time. While I did not like Scott's characters I did like his descriptions of the scenery. Even though he did not go into great details, he did give me enough information to envision the scenery in my mind. The whale hunting scenes were awesome.Overall Recommendation:
I would recommend this with caution. That Deadman Dance is an interesting novel, but I don't think it's for people that aren't really literary fiction fans. If you like literary fiction I would recommend giving it a try.
I received That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott as an ARC.