“The stories of Inglewell, like the tellers, are hybrids of tales from distant woods and forests.”
You’d think a story with such a bright, sunny setting wouldn’t be dark and gloomy, but that isn’t the case with Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings. Instead, this book is full of haunting stories, shattered memories, and family secrets that were buried deep for a reason.
Flyaway follows the story of Bettina, a young adult who lives with her mother in a small Australian town. One morning she finds a mysterious note and is convinced that it was sent by one of her missing brothers. The contents of the note are too specific, and she can’t think of anyone else who would have sent it. In order to find out the truth, she sets out in search of answers.
Bettina is a little unreliable. We quickly learn that she has gaps in her memories, and isn’t quite sure if she should believe the stories her mother has told her, or bits and pieces of information she’s received from others. Throughout the book we get to see fantastical stories from other characters which help weave together the sinister truth of what actually happened to Bettina’s family.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this novella, but knew it would be good; every novella that I’ve read from this publisher has been fantastic, and Flyaway was no exception. It blended elements of folklore, horror, and fairy tales. It’s full of monsters and ghosts, and a sense of yearning so strong you’ll be pulled right in to the thick of it all.
The writing was also beautiful. The descriptions were so vivid and lush, and I was able to visualize almost every scene in my head perfectly. This was both good and bad, because some of the scenes were quite disturbing. However, the narrative throughout Flyaway, paired with the setting and tone, were right up my alley.
I’ve seen other reviews compare this book to Shirley Jackson’s writing and I couldn’t agree more. It’s dark and eerie, has the perfect amount of suspense, and will keep you on your toes until the very end. Part of me wants to reread it in the Fall, because it’d be a great fit for a chilly October night, except it’s set in bright, sunny Australia.
If you’re in the mood for a gothic story full of family secrets, check out this book. Plus, it’s under 200 pages, so it’s a quick read.
Thank you to the publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, for an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley. Flyaway comes out on July 28, 2020, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.