Ghosts of Australia past: Postcolonial haunting in Australian adolescent mystery novels

Troy Geoffrey Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This essay explores the use of haunting in two Australian adolescent mystery novels, Victor Kelleher s Baily s Bones (1988) and Anthony Eaton s A New Kind of Dreaming (2001). Both novels mobilise the mystery genre as a means to interrogate Australia s colonial past and neocolonial present. The function of the spatial environments in which the novels take place and the construction and function of haunting in each novel is interrogated. It is argued that haunting is figured as a disruptive process whereby the repressed colonial scene intrudes on the present, such that the haunting the teenage protagonists experience encourages them to enquire into the past. While on the one hand the novels advocate a renewed interrogation of Australia s past in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the present, a closer reading of the texts reveals that the novels fail to sustain their postcolonial endeavours. Thus, while adolescent mystery fiction is a genre that can be mobilised in the name of postcolonial enquiry, the difficulty of doing so effectively is illustrative of the wider challenge of achieving decolonisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185 - 200
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Research in Children's Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Affect
  • Detection
  • Genre
  • Place
  • Postcolonialism
  • Y A fiction

Cite this