Amy has only ever known what life is like in the Clearing. 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. 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. That is, 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.

@JPPomare @HodderBooks #InTheClearing

My Review

What a great story! It’s creepy and terrifying – there were times when I was actually scared to read on.

There are two main protagonists – teenager Amy who lives in The Clearing, and Freya, mother of Aspen and Billy. Amy has never known anything else outside the world of the cult in which she lives. Beatings, hunger, torture – these are all part of her everyday life. The cult is run by Adrienne – Protect the Queen – and Adam, who gets up to some really weird stuff. They are the ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to ten children, of which Amy is the eldest, until they take another child they call Asha. Adrienne needs 12 children for her ‘family’ to be complete. They must all be fair haired and blue-eyed – in fact there are hints that their hair is dyed white if it’s too dark.

Freya lives in the middle of nowhere, with her young son Billy and a big scary dog called Rocky, who is trained to attack strangers who threaten their safety. We know that something bad happened to Freya’s first son Aspen, which meant that she ‘lost’ him, but it takes a while till we find out exactly what. Freya’s ex is called Wayne (the boys’ father) and he seems to have a part in all this. But what is Freya really afraid of?

Freya and Amy’s lives are connected but we don’t know how or why until quite a way into the book. You will be shocked and surprised. I can’t really say much more without spoilers, but be assured this book will keep you up at night, sometimes in a good way and sometimes because you will be too scared to go to sleep. I loved this book. Totally different. They say you can never escape from a cult and you’ll never escape from the effect this book will have on you. In a good way that is!

Many thanks to #NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

J. P. Pomare was raised on a horse farm in rural New Zealand where he lived until he was eighteen before deciding to travel. After years abroad, including a twelve months living in North America, he settled in Melbourne, Australia and has lived there since.

His debut novel Call Me Evie was released to critical acclaim and won the 2019 Ngaio Marsh Award for best first novel. In The Clearing is his second novel.

J.P. is also the host of the podcast On Writing.

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