The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Hamish Hamilton, and imprint of Penguin Books. Also published as “Migrations” by Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers USA. 3. Antarctica [Public Domain] via Pikist 4. Arctic tern. [Public Domain] via Pixabay 5. Fishing boat [Public Domain] via Pikist

The world is now almost without wild animals, due to the extinction of most species. Franny Stone wants to track the Arctic tern on its migration south, believing this will be the last one. She tags three terns in Greenland, and travels aboard a fishing boat to track the journey. She is emotionally disturbed, and has some very dark secrets that become more intrusive in her daily life, affecting the boat’s crew in tragic ways.


“The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any animal. It flies from the Arctic all the way to the Antarctic, and then back again within a year. This is an extraordinarily long flight for a bird its size. And because the terns live to be thirty or so, the distance they will travel over the course of their lives is the equivalent of flying to the moon and back three times.”

“The midnight sun has turned the world indigo and something about the light reminds me of the land where I was raised, that special Galway blue. I’ve seen a fair helping of the world and what strikes me most is that there are no two qualities of light the same, no matter where you go. Australia is bright and hard. Galway has a smudgeness to it, a tender haze. Here the edges of everything are crisp and cold.”

My opinion:

I really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written and the characters are interesting. But there were a few loose ends, and for me, the ending didn’t seem plausible.

The opinion of others:
  • Better Reading:The Last Migration is haunting, heartbreaking yet still hopeful. It’s one of the best books of 2020 for me. I loved it.”
  • The Guardian: “The dreamy, slippery novel melds adventure with climate fiction as its protagonist follows the last remaining Arctic terns on their final migration amid mass extinction.”
Other editions:

Charlotte McConaghy

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