Saturday, August 29, 2020

In the Clearing - J.P. Pomare

In The Clearing is J.P. Pomare's new release.

What's it about? From Mulholland Books:

"Set against a ticking clock, this "taut and unpredictable" thriller pits a ruthless cult against a mother's love, revealing that our darkest secrets are the hardest ones to leave behind (Chris Hammer).

Four days to go
Amy has only ever known life in the Clearing, amidst her brothers and sisters–until a newcomer, a younger girl, joins the "family" and offers a glimpse of the outside world.

Three days to go
Freya is going to great lengths to seem like an "everyday mum," even as she maintains her isolated lifestyle, hoping to protect her young son and her dog.

Two days to go
When news breaks of a missing girl–a child the same age as Freya's son, Billy–Amy and Freya find themselves headed for a shocking collision.

One day to go."

My Thoughts:

Pomare's cult preys on children with a sadistic and thoroughly mad leader. Interestingly, in this case, it's a woman.  She simply needs twelve children to complete her family.  If they're blond that's perfect - otherwise she'll have their hair dyed. Food is scarce, correction is harsh, and the adults are horrible in so many ways. But things start to escalate and Amy begins to question everything she has ever known. I initially thought Freya was older than I thought. She's quite enigmatic about why she lives where she does, her past etc. This is a great way to hook a reader. But it went on a bit too long for me. She tries very hard to appear normal and fit in. But she knows she doesn't. A piece of her past arrives - and her carefully structured life begins to crumble.

I had my suspicions about the connection between these two lead characters. Pomare did a good job of eking out the connections by alternating Amy and Freya's narratives, as well as journal entries. The ending was a nice gotcha.

It was only on finishing the book that I discovered Pomare took inspiration for In the Clearing from an actual Australian cult from the 1960's. Many of Pomare's cult's details are taken directly from The Family.

And that could be the thing with this book for me. It felt like any other cultish novel I've previously read and ended up being an okay, not great, read for me. Other folks really loved this novel - you can check out their reviews on Goodreads. Or here's an excerpt of In the Clearing.

Gentle readers, this one may not be for you - there are some triggering situations.

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