‘In the Clearing’ – J.P. Pomare

I was able to read In the Clearing thanks to Secret Readers, and this is a book I will definitely recommend.

We have two clear voices telling the majority of the story. There’s a young girl called Amy who we can see is part of a cult and she recounts some of the abuses and brainwashing she endures at the hands of those she calls family. And then there’s Freya, a woman who hints at a traumatic past, who lives with her young son Billy. A familiar face from Freya’s past pops up, and somehow we know these events are connected but aren’t sure how.

As the story progresses I was quite horrified by the details we’re given about life in The Clearing and the way this group is organised. This is not comfortable reading.

Freya herself is not a particularly easy character to empathise with. Abrasive and, at times, her own worst enemy. However, when her son disappears we start to sense there is more to come.

What I was struck by was the way in which the various strands come together. I genuinely did not see some of these links, and the ending gave me serious goosebumps as I can only imagine where this might go.