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Review – Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings

Kathleen Jennings - Flyaway cropped for featured image
Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings

Book Title: Flyaway

Book Description: In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers—a note that makes question her memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure. A beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun, Flyaway introduces readers to Bettina Scott, whose search for the truth throws her into tales of eerie dogs, vanished schools, cursed monsters, and enchanted bottles. In these pages Jennings assures you that gothic delights, uncanny family horror, and strange, unsettling prose can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun. Holly Black describes as “half mystery, half fairy tale, all exquisitely rendered and full of teeth.” Flyaway enchants you with the sly, beautiful darkness of Karen Russell and a world utterly its own.

Book Author: Kathleen Jennings

Book Edition: 1st

Book Format: EBook

Publisher - Orgnization: Tor Books

Publisher Logo:

Date published: 2020-07-28

Number Of Pages: 176

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10
  • Writing - 9/10
    9/10
  • Plot Development - 8/10
    8/10
  • Overall - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
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Summary

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.

Kathleen Jennings - Flyaway
Kathleen Jennings – Flyaway

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.

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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan needs books to function, and therefore can infodump quite a lot about them, particularly when they're either science fiction or fantasy.

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