Tuesday 21 July 2015


Panther by David Owen (Corsair 2015)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN: 9781472116420

Reviewed by Jade Harmer

Panther by UK author David Owen is a brave and honest portrayal of the impact of depression on a family through the eyes of teenage protagonist, Derrick.
We first meet Derrick in a dark alley. He’s rummaging through garbage bags in search of junk food disposed of days before, which he intends to eat for comfort and punishment.

We soon learn that his sister’s depression is causing Derrick’s world to crumble around him. He’s bullied, he’s lonely and his family is being consumed. He blames himself and sees it as his responsibility to find a way back to the life that existed before the depression took over.

A panther rumoured to be roaming Derrick’s south London suburb becomes his obsession. He sets out to catch the beast, convinced that doing so will ‘fix’ his sister and restore normality. But does the mysterious panther even exist, or is it a metaphor for depression itself?

Derrick’s misguided, sometimes disturbing behaviour, can make it difficult to like him. His humour contradicts an often grim reality as he struggles to come to terms with his sister’s illness.

In his debut novel, Owen shares his unique perspective as both an observer and a sufferer of depression, shining a light on the impact of mental illness for all involved.
With Beyond Blue reporting that one in sixteen young Australians currently experience depression and one in four a mental health condition, novels such as Panther present a significant opportunity to stimulate discussion and foster understanding for sufferers and loved ones alike.

Suitable for a young adult and adult readership. 

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