The Axeman’s Carnival is a novel that has been clasped to New Zealanders’ hearts. It is narrated by the unforgettable Tama, a fledgling magpie taken in and raised by Marnie on the Te Waipounamu high country farm she shares with champion axeman husband Rob. Without anthropomorphism, Tama is constantly entertaining with his take on the foibles and dramas of his human companions. An underlying sense of dread is shot through with humour and humanity. Chidgey’s masterful writing explores the diversifying of rural life, the predicament of childlessness, the ageing champ, and domestic violence. She provides a perspicacious take on the invidious nature of social media and a refreshingly complex demonstration of feminist principle. The Axeman’s Carnival is unique: poetic, profound and a powerfully compelling read from start to finish.