How far would you go to protect your family?
J.P. Pomare’s debut novel was the impressive and widely lauded Call Me Evie, and that book’s many fans have been waiting eagerly for his next offering. Call Me Evie was a hard act to follow, but Pomare has done so with aplomb and delivered an exceptional second book – none of the Second Book Syndrome for this author. If anything, In the Clearing might be better.
Amy has only ever known what life is like in the Clearing, a cult based in the Victorian bushland. She knows what’s expected of her. She knows what to do to please her elders, and how to make sure life in the community remains happy and calm. That is, until a new young girl joins the group. She isn’t fitting in; she doesn’t want to stay, and she sets Amy off on a path where she questions her beliefs and what life might be outside the Clearing. What happens next will turn life as Amy knows it on its head.
Freya has gone to great lengths to feel like a ‘normal person’. In fact, if you saw her go about her day with her young son, you’d think she was an everyday mum. But she’s not an everyday mum. She has a trauma in her past that she continues to battle daily. She will do anything to protect her child, so her property is secure, with dogs, panic buttons and a bunker. She’s done all she can to maintain a safe and normal life, until a young girl goes missing and someone from her past, someone she hasn’t seen for a very long time, arrives in town.
As Amy and Freya’s story intertwines the secrets of the past bubble up to the surface. This rural Aussie town’s dark underbelly is about to be exposed and lives will be destroyed.
What can I say without giving anything away? Let’s start with this: In the Clearing is a fabulous, unputdownable psychological thriller. It plays with you, reeling you in immediately and yet keeping you a little confused, as you desperately try to work out what is going on. (A bit like being in a cult.) A creepy start pulls you down a rabbit hole you can’t escape, and by the second half of the book, where the twists and turns are in full swing, you’re guessing and second guessing and on a pure thriller-pleasure ride.
This is a smart, brilliantly written and superbly plotted page-turner. With In the Clearing, J.P. Pomare has officially arrived.