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'A lyrical verse novel exploring love and grief and the strange and wonderful art of taxidermy.'

Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does.

And her mother? Lottie's mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her.

'The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.​'

Available from Text Publishing 

Teachers' Notes available here

‘Completely mesmerising, fresh and unexpected.’ - Diana Sweeney, winner of 2013 Text Prize


‘An intense exploration of grief.’ - Steven Herrick


‘[An] exquisite lyrical verse novel… [A] sharply evocative tale.’ - West Weekend


‘The work couples the swift, clipped charm of a verse novel and the unpredictable beauty of the Australian landscape in a captivating manner that showcases an author entirely comfortable with her form…Lingers in the mind for weeks afterwards.’ - Tulpa Magazine

‘Kernot has created an intriguing tale of mystery and the imagination with a haunting ambience that the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe would recognise and admire…this is a delightful story about grief transformed and the urge to resurrect and to re-create.’  - Saturday Paper

‘This book is beautifully written…while the novel is about grief, it is also about the importance of remembering and keeping the memory of loved ones alive.’ - Magpies Magazine

‘In lyrical language, Kernot draws a comparison between the Australian bush and death: both are beautiful and desolate at once.’ - Readings

‘Kernot’s writing is imbued with life and grace and moments of infectious joy.’ - SA Weekend

'Wonderfully evocative, reading The Art of Taxidermy feels like you’re taking a long walk in the Australian

bush with Lottie, reflecting on grief, loss and mortality. Slowly and gently through exquisitely descriptive

verse, the extent of the pain her family has endured is revealed.' - Better Reading Magazine.


Damien, Edith, Kenneth and Mary, are residents of a single street whose lives are ordinary to the last degree and as such encompass addiction and domestic violence, quiet achievements and small acts of kindness and treachery.

Jack and Mary, locked at uncomfortably close quarters on Jack’s retirement, chafe and sulk and fret. Edith finds solace playing the pokies. Damien lives in terror of his stepfather Marcus and the school bully and broods on revenge. And Kenneth, unhinged, wanders the streets.


Lives intertwine and decisions are made, and the tension quietly grows to its shattering climax.


To read an extract click here 

Books are available from Wakefield Press

This is an impressive first novel. It is a gripping read, but also takes time to incorporate significant social commentary, without being ‘preachy’. The lives of the inhabitants of one street are intertwined, each facing different challenges: bullying, domestic violence, gambling, mental illness, adjustment to retirement. The characters are engaging and the reader is drawn into their world from page one. - Mike Hopkins, poet.


Kernot knows her characters well and describes their failings with deep tenderness. In many ways, this gem of a book is a thriller in disguise. Even though it is a character-driven novel, we keep reading because we really need to know what is going to happen next. - Anna Solding, writer and publisher. Author of The Hum of Concrete.


Underground Road is a brilliant debut novel by a talented author. I thoroughly enjoyed delving into the private lives of each character and found it shone an interesting light on Australian life. I can’t wait to read more from Sharon Kernot. - Debbie Phillips, Chronicle, Toowoomba


Kernot's debut novel is a gritty and engaging read about poverty and its effects on families; it covers themes such as social isolation, domestic violence and gambling addiction. A mature, thoughtful novel by an author with direct experience in child protection and poverty. - Anne-Marie Taplin, Parenting Express.


There is dread in this work coupled with a great sense of normality. Underground Road is sharply political, uncomfortable, ‘get real’ literature. The final scenes are riveting. - Francesca Rendle-Short, writer and academic.


A strong social conscience informs the novel but doesn’t bog it down. Kernot’s prose is clear and plain-spoken, her eye

for detail sharp. She cleverly knits together separate lives to make a vivid, gripping whole. This is an accomplished, slow-burning novel. - Cath Kenneally, writer and poet.


This is a story that every aspiring social worker should read, and every experienced social worker should recognise. The context of this gripping novel is a local working-class neighbourhood, where relationships are strained and restrained, people are isolated in their homes. I was engaged with the characters from the start and continued to be as I read the book. - Sally McMichael, reviewer.


I thoroughly recommend this book – a good book should touch you, challenge you, move you, you should marvel in its writing and it should make you think about it long after you close the pages. Underground Road does all of these things. I cannot stop thinking about the very real characters and the lives they lead. - Joan Fenney, poet and bookseller.

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