New Release Book Review: Trick of the Light by Fiona McCallum

New Release Book Review: Trick of the Light by Fiona McCallum

Title: Trick of the Light

Author: Fiona McCallum

Published: April 7th 2021

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 368

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

The old saying goes: ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. But what if your problem is secret?

Erica, newly widowed, is devastated to discover her venture capitalist husband left their finances in ruins. Determined to save her home while protecting her teenage daughters, she vows to get back on her feet without letting them, or anyone else, know the truth.

When her girls head off on a long-planned overseas adventure, Erica focuses on her much-loved job behind a makeup counter to keep her emotionally and financially afloat – although she is troubled by a peculiar encounter at work.

Then she loses her job, the darkness beckons and Erica’s life spirals downwards, further disturbed by strange occurrences in her house. Missing objects. Stopped clocks. Noises in the night. Should she doubt her very sanity? Can she swallow her pride and make herself reach out to her friends in time? Does she have a choice?

A moving story of loss, change and self-discovery from Australia’s master storyteller.


‘Now it seemed different. Why am I being like this? she thought. Renee might suggest she was finally coming out of her grief and beginning to properly see the world again. Like a caterpillar leaving its cocoon as a moth. But wouldn’t she have a brighter and more cheerful view if she was leaving the darkness for the light?’

A leader in the pack when it comes to Australian contemporary fiction, Fiona McCallum returns with another moving, poignant and reflective story. A tale that reminds us of the power of valuable friendships, hope, courage and determination, Trick of the Light is all about seizing the day and working towards a brighter future.

Problems, secrets, grief, support and change marks the new release from bestselling Australian author Fiona McCallum. We meet new widow Erica, who has just discovered that her late husband has left their finances in a sad and sorry state. While Erica is shocked and worried, she knows that she must withhold this information from her two teenage daughters, in an effort to protect them from further concern. Erica resolves to take care of her family’s difficult financial situation, but she soon realises that she is in way over head. While her daughters embark on a long-awaited trip overseas, Erica is left with an empty household. Sadly, Erica loses her job not long after her teenage daughters set off on their overseas adventure. Erica feels alone, lost and troubled, especially when some unusual noises occur at night. Alarm bells continue to ring for Erica when various household items disappear. Erica begins to question her mental health. Should Erica reach out for support, or is this an issue she can deal with alone? Trick of the Light is a tender-hearted story, that charts the raw emotions, growth and change faced by a woman dealing with loss.

Trick of the Light by bestselling author Fiona McCallum signals the author’s thirteenth release. I consider myself a seasoned fan of McCallum’s work, having connected to this talented Australian author’s writing since the release of the Button Jar series back in 2013. I always make a conscious effort to read and review McCallum’s books soon after their release. Trick of the Light proved to be another winning piece Fiona McCallum.

Combining themes of loss, secrets, change, self-reflection and hardship, Trick of the Light pits lead character Erica against some difficult life changes. The reader watches on as Erica navigates loss, grief, financial woes, menopause, empty nest feelings and care for her elderly parent. I felt terrible for Erica, it seemed like she had been given the short straw. The combination of all these issues would personally send me right off the edge emotionally, but McCallum’s lead reminds us that problems can be shared and it is important to deal with issues one step at a time. I appreciated these important affirmations.

Financial awareness seems to be the overriding theme in Trick of the Light. Erica is not aware of how dire her family’s financial resources are until her husband passes away. This creates quite a storm, as Erica must navigate a new life of changed responsibility, while protecting her children and their family’s legacy. I could relate to this issue and it definitely gave me a bit of a nudge to take a greater role in my own family’s financial arrangements. This storyline may serve as a wake-up call for other readers. Likewise, readers will be able to relate to the empty nest situation and the menopause symptoms faced by Erica. McCallum builds a strong sense of authenticity, sympathy and sensitivity in regards to these issues. I found Trick of the Light to be a very relevant novel, with connective ideas presented.

Mental health following loss is a significant focus of Trick of the Light, as Erica wrestles with her new life and family burdens. This is coupled with strange situation at work, a job loss and odd movements in the home. We question Erica’s state of mind along with Erica herself. I think component of the novel was handled well by McCallum. Possibilities arise as the story unfolds, with elements of intrigue and danger. I did appreciate how it was all wrapped up, but I did feel that Erica’s story wasn’t over, I would like to revisit this character as she settles towards a brighter future.

With glimmers of both darkness and light, along with sadness and hope, Trick of the Light is a reassuring tale from a valuable Australian storyteller.

Trick of the Light by Fiona McCallum was published on 7th April 2021 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Trick of the Light, Fiona McCallum, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Trick of the Light is book #55 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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