Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings
Writing - 9/10
Plot Development - 8/10
Overall - 8.5/10
User Review( votes)
Flyaway is a quick and gorgeous novella that explores a setting not often seen in books, and seems like what you would get if you combined The Ten Thousand Doors of January with We Have Always Lived in the Castle and sent your unholy creation to go play in rural Australia.
Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings
Flyaway is an Australian gothic novella by debut author Kathleen Jennings. Tor.com consistently publishes really great novellas, and I’m not here to tell you that this is an exception to the rule. Instead, Flyaway takes the fantasy reader to a place more often seen in Jane Harper’s mystery novels, and extends the setting’s natural eerieness into another reality.
A few years ago, Bettina Scott’s father disappeared and her brothers left town. Ever since, Bettina has lived with her mother in the same small Queensland town. One day, Bettina finds a note from one of her brothers in the mailbox with her name on it. Inside, the note says “You coward, Tink.” This one note upends everything Bettina thought she knew about her life, and sends her on a journey to find the truth.
Writing and Plot Structure
I’m at risk of stating the obvious here, but effective writing serves plot structure and vice versa. Even though it’s possible to have a book with good sentence writing and bad plot writing, there’s a great synergy. This is especially present in this novella. Jennings’ writing style is lyrical, managing to illustrate the setting with specific imagery. Although it may seem that lyrical writing might not be the best for building tension, that’s not true here. Not only can Jennings make something tense when the perspective notices it, but that’s also not the only tool she has.
Flyaway is well served with short chapters that give us a fuller picture of the world than just lyrical sentences. In the first chapter of this novella, the first narrative perspective we see is Bettina’s. It’s immediately clear to the attentive reader that Bettina’s perspective is clouded, to say the least. Once we’re settled in, expecting to see this world through Bettina’s eyes, the narrative perspective shifts. This continues for the rest of the novella: although Bettina is our protagonist and the person whose perspective we primarily see though, that’s not all we see. Additionally, the chapters are short, which doesn’t leave the reader a lot with which to linger. Jennings gives us enough perspectives to ensure that we have a full view of the situation and the world. Altogether, this novella is a creepy read that will chill you in this 90+ degree heat.
Conclusion – Flyaway Is an Unsettling Road Trip Into the Australian Bush
Flyaway is a quick and gorgeous novella that explores a setting not often seen in books, published by one of the big 5 (Tor.com is a subsidiary of Macmillan). This novella seems like what you would get if you combined The Ten Thousand Doors of January with We Have Always Lived in the Castle and sent your unholy creation to go play in rural Australia. It manages to be incredibly tense and creepy while beautifully written.
I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Are you going to pick up Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings? Talk about it with us on social media!
For more Word of the Nerd book news, reviews, and reading lists, click here.