The Upwelling

Lystra Rose

The Upwelling
Hachette Australia
31 August 2022

The Upwelling

Lystra Rose

Shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Prize 2023

Winner of the Indigenous Writing Award at the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2022

Three misfits. Two warring spirits. One chance to save the world. Kirra is the great-granddaughter of a certified crazy person and her terrible dreams are coming true. When an end-of-the-world nightmare forces her to surf where her brother was killed, she time-slips into a dangerous yet freeing place. Narn is the son of a well-respected Elder and holds an enviable role in his saltwater clan. Though he bears the marks of a man, many treat him like an uninitiated boy, including the woman he wants to impress. Tarni is the daughter of a fierce hunter and the custodian of a clever gift. Somehow, she understands Kirra when no-one else can. But who sent this unexpected visitor: a powerful ancient healer or an evil shadow spirit?

When death threatens all life, can a short-sighted surfer, a laidback dolphin caller, and a feisty language unweaver work together to salvage our future?


This fantasy debut by First Nations writer Lystra Rose is a fascinating deep dive into the traditional culture of the Yugambeh people, proudly showcasing their language and practices throughout the narrative.

Written in three distinct voices, the story begins in contemporary times with teenage surfer Kirra, who is still grieving the loss of her brother in a surfing accident many years prior. During a surf competition, she is tossed by a barrel wave and washes up on a beach in the past, on the lands of a traditional clan. There, she interrupts a dolphin-calling ceremony being undertaken by a young man, Narn. Kirra is welcomed into the clan and looked after by the girl Narn loves, Tarni, whose skill is an ability to interpret and speak many different languages. Kirra’s power is that her dreams can see the future. These three teenagers will need to work together to save the future of the world from annihilation.

The clan understand that Kirra’s arrival is significant, because on her surfboard (they call it a flat canoe) is an ancient symbol that she drew of the god, N’gian. The clan is at a crucial moment, threatened from within by a traitor and from without, as a nearby tribe has harnessed the power of a dark spirit, the Malung, that could prove calamitous.

The Upwelling has strong characterisation, and its use of a fantasy narrative to depict the complexity and community within traditional culture feels utterly unique. For fantasy lovers and for those interested in First Nations stories, Lystra Rose is an exciting new voice. Highly recommended for ages 13+.

Angela Crocombe is a senior buyer at Readings

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