Smorgasbord Book Reviews – Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires by Frank Prem

Delighted to review the latest release of Frank Prem, Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which is available on pre-order for delivery on May 31st. I reviewed his first book Small Town Kid and eagerly anticipated this new collection.

About Devil in the Wind

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

Buy the book for delivery on May 31st:

and on Amazon UK:

My review for Devil in the Wind.

Having enjoyed Small Town Kid and Frank Prem’s unique way of using verse to convey a story, I was eagerly anticipating this new collection.

The title is apt, as it is not just the frightening power of fire that strikes terror into the hearts of those in its path, but the knowledge that the direction of the flames and your fate is dependent on the fickle winds.

Frank Prem captures the growing concern of the communities in the area as they listen to the radio for the latest reports. So many factors to consider, including should they go or should they stay. Some leave it too late, caught in flight on the roads, families packed into a car trying to outrun the flames leaving everything they own to the mercy of the fire. Whole towns are engulfed in what seems to be minutes, and you can sense the growing terror as the author shares stories of families and individuals waiting desperately for information.

This is a true story, a devastating time of human loss and also of people’s way of life and their work, with livestock and wildlife consumed along with property. There are survival stories and moments of hope, particularly when an old Kangaroo, a frequent visitor to town, turns up in the aftermath by a water tank and people rally around to find some food for him.

This is not an easy read as far as the subject matter is concerned, but the author writes so well, that you are carried along in the flow, engaging with the men, women and children attempting to survive and also those brave men and women on the front line desperately trying to save them.

In the aftermath everyone wants answers… and justice for those who have perished… because nature was only the accomplice.

Also by Frank Prem

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews for both books and follow Frank on Goodreads:

About Frank Prem

I’ve been a storytelling poet for about forty years. Longer in fact, as I remember the first poem I wrote while at secondary school was about 150 – 200 words long and was accepted in lieu of a 500 word essay. I think that may have been the start.

I love to read my work to a live audience, and have audio recorded some recent recordings and popped them on my author page. I have also done some studio- recorded work under the direction and accompaniment of my wife Leanne Murphy that can be listened to there. These poems are on mythological themes and the accompaniment by Leanne makes them a little bit extraordinary.

By profession, I am a psychiatric nurse and have worked across most facets of public psychiatry and the mental health/mental illness spectrum. My experiences and reflections on what I have seen and done are the subject of a forthcoming memoir – scheduled for late 2019, or perhaps more likely, 2020.

I’ve been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, but for a long time I haven’t sought much publication. The whims of editors are a little too capricious and unknowable, so I have preferred to hone my craft and self-publish on my poetry blogs

Leanne and I reside in the beautiful township of Beechworth in the North-East of Victoria (Australia).

Connect to Frank

Website Audio:
Seventeen Syllable Poetry:

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the news of Frank’s new poetry collection.. thanks Sally.

19 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Reviews – Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires by Frank Prem

  1. Sally, thank you for a wonderful review of Devil In The Wind. It is the story of a difficult and tragic time and I’m glad I’ve been able to put these stories together to show the perspective of survivors and victims. I’m relieved and delighted that the stories translate well to readers in countries other than Australia.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Frank Prem Poetry and commented:
    Thank you Sally Cronin for a wonderful review of Devil In The Wind.

    I am delighted and feel honored to have such wonderful reviewers giving this and Small Town Kid their time and attention.

    Have a read. Sally (and other reviewers) have presented this book, perhaps better than I can myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. A great review, Sally. I recently read a book about a bunch of people protecting their community from a fire and it’s impossible not to wonder what we would do. Good luck to Frank!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Olga.. horrifying.. we used get bush fires in the mountains in Madrid.. and we had a lake in the middle of our urbanisation.. we always knew there was a fire when the helicopters would start scooping water from it. We only had two that came close but we were well out of reach.. we still kept an eye on wind shift though.. hugs

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Olga, and apologies for being so late to acknowledge your comment.

      One of my own takeaways from what we experienced and heard was that the rules had changed with this fire, so previous approached and plans suddenly were completely inadequate.

      Difficult times, these.

      Liked by 1 person

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