There are some books that echo in your mind because they retread paths taken by others. So it is with Papillon and a bit of Heart of Darkness that you start to get pulled into The Colony by Hugo Wilcken.
First impressions are of a writer confident enough to describe a world that he hasn’t experienced in a period that has been clearly well researched. You quickly believe in the proposition and want to know how the plot will develop.
The action starts on board a prison ship with the main character Sabir eavesdropping on his fellow prisoners as they head towards remote islands that act as an almost inescapable prison outpost in the French empire.
The sense of heat and trepidation comes across with Sabir not alone in hoping that once on dry land he will not be forced to carry out hard labour. He lies and tells the authorities he is a gardener and from there the tension increases because you know that he has no skill to produce the warden’s garden and his hopes of escape hinge on remaining away from hard labour.