Reviews of Down to the River


“Finn gives her characters interior complexity, and not just her protagonist.”

                  – The Australian Newspaper


Down to the River is a graceful novel that wears its acuity lightly. The paradoxes

and inconsistencies of character are sharply etched, but Finn’s insights into

human weakness are humane.”

                 – The Australian Newspaper


“S.J. Finn has managed the alternating narrators so seamlessly that I hadn’t

realised as I was reading that each chapter shifts in the same order from one

character to another. The teenage son in particular is skilfully written...”

                                                                     – Readings Monthly


“This is at times an incredibly uncomfortable book to read, but good fiction should

be challenging and thankfully there are still small publishers willing to take risks

and bring important books like this to light.”

                                                                      – Readings Monthly


“It is a tribute to her [Finn’s] well-crafted prose and ear for language that there are

startling moments of beauty mixed into the muddier moral and ethical ground.”

                                                                      – Books and Publishing


“Finn’s writing is neither tawdry nor sensationalist: she uses fine brushstrokes, not

broad ones, to paint a portrait of a town in crisis and a woman at a crossroads.”

                                                                       – Books and Publishing


“Down To The River” is a sharp and impressively woven novel.” 4 Stars

                                                                        – Bait for Bookworms


“...this is a book that refuses to accept simple responses to complex social concerns

... and the novel will surely be responsible for more than a few arguments around the

book-club table.”

                                                                         – Australian Book Review


“...beautifully rendered imagery – such as the stag with 'antlers as wide and high as a

winter fruit tree' – makes for what is often highly evocative reading. A good start

to the year for one of Australia’s best small presses.”

                                                                           – Australian Book Review


“...excellent things about this novel are its evocation of the atmosphere and social

workings of a small community, its careful and nuanced treatment of knotty ethical

problems, and its wholly convincing scenes involving a Catholic priest and a small boy.”

                                                                           – Sydney Morning Herald & The Age


“Finn has written a tight, taut, dark, true, astute novel about really complicated things,

like stigma and suspicion and danger and secrets.”

                                                                             – Kate Holden


“Three cheers for SJ Finn who’s used the verb ‘rootles’ in her excellent new release

‘Down to the River.’”

                                                                             – The eds @sincerely_ed



“Down to the River is a timely portrait of a town in crisis, from a deeply thoughtful

writer. Finn has the rare courage to meet the troubled subject of child sexual abuse

head on. Her careful calibration of tension and her knack for intimate characterisation

build to a moving, beautifully orchestrated finish. Along with its simmering moral

questions, it leaves you with a fresh appreciation for the pleasure of the well-crafted


                                                                                 Jennifer Mills



Perhaps the most compelling quality of Finn’s novel is its astute sense of the everyday.
She dramatises the casual or fraught ways in which two people interact, the slow
unfolding of a new relationship, the myriad assumptions members of a family make
about one another, the idiosyncrasies of long established companionship.” 
                                                              Sydney Review of Books