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Beneath the Bloodwood Tree

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

A desert tale of ghosts, death, love, and dislocation.

Pia Ricci has come to Port Hedland to free her life of complications and distractions. But when Pia discovers a bundle of money and men's clothing buried on the outskirts of town, she has an uncomfortable feeling that things are about o change. Is it connected to the foreigner Joachim, a new arrival in town? Or to the ghosts in her own past? As Pia and Joachim grow closer, Pia can see he has secrets. The widow Barnes, one of Joachim's nursing charges, also holds secrets, and they're coming to the surface. As these three misfits come together, their world starts to change in ways that they could never have expected.

Now she listens, perhaps unwisely, to a prickling beneath her skin. It's a sensation she hasn't felt since she was a child. There's some kind of presence in the air, something intangible.

Set against the vast inhospitable landscape of the Pilbara, this is a powerful, tightly-woven desert tale of ghosts, grief and love.



Reviews and testimonials


"It starts absolutely in the desert and there's a lot of mystery about this which I really enjoyed... The characters are given to you in a way that people are... you have to travel with them. I liked that. I liked the detail of their daily lives and also the sense of the setting, the alienation, the loneliness. A beautiful novel... a fine writer... She's one to watch."

– Gail Pittaway, Radio New Zealand.


"Van Loon's novel is faithful to the essential spirit of Australia - to its abiding nihilism. The carking call of a crow ends Xavier Herbert's Capricornia (1938). On its much smaller scale, van Loon's book is a vibrant, telling echo."

– Peter Pierce, Australian Book Review


"This extraordinary novel stands apart from so much current writing for its unsentimental representation of contemporary Australian life... It’s a compelling and very disturbing read that leaves you turning over notions of morality and ethics in the way you might after reading Camus or Highsmith. Both literary and accessible in the best senses of each term."

– Tracy Ryan, author of The Argument.


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