Five Wounds by Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett

Nov 3, 2023
Five Wounds by Jonathan Walker and Dan Hallett

Shortlisted for an Aurealis Award

Surreal, darkly beautiful, and unsettling, this richly illustrated novel is by turns hilarious and horrific, grotesque and tender.

A cruel and arbitrary world, where disturbing lapses in logic are commonplace. A city built on water. Five people, isolated from those around them, but mysteriously connected to one another.

Gabriella is a mutilated angel, haunted by her inability to interpret prophecies. Cur is the rabid leader of a sect of dogs, desperate to escape his inheritance. Cuckoo is a gambler with a wax face, determined to find a fixed identity before his luck runs out. Magpie is a thief in search of the perfect photographic subject, terrified of going blind. Crow is a leper trying to distil the essence of death as an antidote to dying.

Everyone’s connected,’ Gabriella said. ‘You, me, Cur, Crow, Magpie.’ She ticked the names off.
‘Five fingers,’ Cuckoo said, watching her hand.
Gabriella picked up the theme. ‘Five wounds.’
‘Five wild cards,’ returned Cuckoo.
‘Or five marked cards. Someone’s playing games with us.’

At the end of the game, who wins and who loses? Who escapes their fate, and who fulfils it?

Originally published by Allen & Unwin, the second edition of Five Wounds has been extensively revised and updated. It includes forty colour pages, and is available exclusively from as a free pdf download, or a print-on-demand paperback.

Reviews for the First Edition

Five Wounds … is like Christmas for book nerds. It’s like Christmas in July and regular Christmas combined, that’s how good it is.
Dave Drayton, Vibewire

The story itself is a beautifully written and illustrated journey, but for me what made the novel truly ‘illuminated’ was the way in which the book refused to settle. Five Wounds is no summer beach distraction, it’s an intensely involved reading experience.  For me the journey of reading the book was one of active problem-solving and code-breaking, …
[For] those who will take its challenge the book is a truly unique project, and its reading reaps truly unique rewards. It is a beautiful and worthy piece of art, and with each stripping back, the heart of its mystery becomes more and more elusive, and yet more and more meaningful. Perhaps I will never uncover all of its secrets, but I have nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Lyndon Riggall, Literary Minded

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