13 August 2020

Review: Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings

Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings book cover
* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan *

Written by Australian Kathleen Jennings, Flyaway is a novella full of stories within stories, delivered in a shroud of myth, legend, folklore and superstition that kept me guessing.

Our protagonist Bettina has a mysterious past and she's determined to find out what happened to her brothers - and herself - several years ago.

Set in outback Australia, the beautiful writing, evocative descriptions and imagery brought the once familiar landscape to life in a new and eerie light. The rural area was both peaceful and menacing, the town a haven for a close knit community as well as a place seething under the surface with fear and mistrust.

A combination of urban fantasy and magical realism, Flyaway is full of mysterious disappearances, creatures that lurk in the shadows and a slight otherness that you can never quite put your finger on.

The structure, lyrical prose and fairytale elements reminded me a great deal of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. And just like that book, I enjoyed the writing, the world building and stories within stories, but I was never confident of maintaining a full and clear picture of what was actually happening at any given time.

Presented with an exquisite cover design and french flaps, Flyaway is a gothic Australian fairytale that might just penetrate the pages into your subconscious.

After letting this book settle in my mind, I realised I feel the same way about this as I do The Starless Sea. I loved it but there were definitely elements of reader confusion and matters unresolved. For instance, I wanted to learn more about Bettina's mother and her own transformation during the intervening years.

Nevertheless, Flyaway is a smashing literary debut by Kathleen Jennings and I'm sure awards will follow.

Carpe Librum!
My Rating:

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