Cover Image: In the Clearing

In the Clearing

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Member Reviews

This book is eerie and gripping, and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next. The first half was slower, but once I got past that, I flew through the end.
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Once again J.P. Pomare delivers a shocking thriller that will leave you speechless.

Told from two perspectives:
Amy: a young fifteen year old girl living with her “new family” all her brothers and sisters. This is no peace love and s’mores kind of clan. These children are worked morning to night with little food to sustain them. No complaints though.... 'Mother' would not appreciate anyone speaking out of turn.

Freya: A single mother who always seems to be looking over her shoulder. She trusts no one. And holds onto her son maybe a bit too tightly. She has secrets (don’t we all😂) but you just know hers are going to be whoppers!

My head was spinning from all the twists J.P. Pomare kept throwing at me. I was able to figure a couple of the smaller ones out, but the shockers stopped me in my tracks! I mean I literally had to stop reading to process the enormity of the twists.😱

This is the second book I’ve read from this author and though I loved Call Me Evie just a bit more, both delivered everything I look for in a thriller.

Can’t wait for his next release! I’m already in line!🙋🏻‍♀‍

Posted to: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for an ARC to read and review,
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Creepy & Sinister!

If you have a fascination with cults (but don’t fancy being in one) this book is for you!

For Amy who has been in the cult her entire life, she has never questioned anything.  Not until she’s asked to help kidnap a child and bring him into the fold.  That day, everything changes.  

When Freya’s son Billy goes missing, her heart just about stops. As a mother, she did everything she could to protect him and it wasn’t enough.

A twisty - turny psychological thriller that intertwined the lives of Amy and Freya in the most brilliant of ways, “In the Clearing” is a truly intense read!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mullholland Books for the arc.
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Thank you to Mulholland Books for providing me with a copy of J.P. Pomare’s novel, In the Clearing, in exchange for an honest review.

Amy has spent her whole life in “The Clearing” home to a reclusive cult in rural Australia. A preteen and the oldest child on the compound, she has been indoctrinated to fear the outside world. Amy’s life is filled with restrictions, brutal punishments, and manual labor. The focus of the cult is to adore and follow the guidance of their leader, Adrienne, whom is referred to as their “mother.”  Amy’s life changes when she takes part in the kidnapping of a new child to join their cult. 

Freya distrusts society. She lives with her young son, Billy,  in a heavily fortified home with a bunker located on the edge of a national park. Freya takes every possible precaution, yet Billy goes missing. 

In the Clearing alternates between Amy and Freya’s perspectives. The story is intense and engaging from the first chapter, and I found it difficult to put down. Pomare expertly doles out clues regarding Freya’s past, allowing the reader to piece together the mystery of both Freya and Amy. Neither woman is a reliable narrator, yet both hold clues to the mystery of Billy’s disappearance and their stories collide in the most unexpected twist.

In the Clearing was the perfect novel to read on my winter vacation. Although the story is set in scorching hot, drought/fire prone Australia, the tone is ominous and dark. I cozied up on the couch of our rental home, sheltered from the gloomy weather outside, and dove into this psychological thriller.

 It’s an intense read and I can imagine this being turned into an exciting film or television limited series. I’m not easily scared, but elements of the story lingered with me in a haunting way. Pomare has crafted an intriguing plot with fast pacing and memorable characters. If you like thrillers and are not turned-off by a bit of violence, I highly recommend adding In the Clearing to your TBR pile.
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I loved the way Pomare brought together the lives of Amy and Freya in this psychological cult mystery.  The book was fast moving and I read it in less than 2 days!  Leaves me wondering what happens to the people who are "rescued" from cults and what their lives are like years later.
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After scooping international acclaim and accolades for his debut Call Me Evie, a nerve-jangling and claustrophobic psychological thriller infused with literary flair, JP Pomare avoids any sophomore stumbles with In the Clearing, an excellent novel that cements the Melbourne-based Māori storyteller as a fresh and interesting voice in mystery writing. It addresses some similar themes to his debut – identity, psychological manipulation, and responses to trauma – while being more expansive in scope.

Pomare does a terrific job keeping readers guessing throughout In the Clearing, via both a twisting storyline and the narratives of his main characters Freya and Amy. Both protagonists seem incredibly candid at times – but can we really trust everything they say? Through Amy’s narrative and diaries we learn about ‘The Clearing’, a rural cult with a messianic mother figure that utilizes violent punishments to ensure obedience and ‘realign’ the children in its community back onto the path of ‘the Truth’.

The harrowing abuse involving Amy and her ‘siblings’ is even more chilling given Pomare took inspiration from notorious real-life Australian cult The Family. In the Clearing is a disturbing yet compulsive read, with a snap to its prose and an arresting sense of people and place.
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Cults and the psychology behind their leaders and followers has fascinated me for years, so I was excited to read this book. The split narrations adds an interesting depth to the story. The pace moves quickly and surprises pop up on a regular basis, keeping it engaging and fun. The author manages to capture all the elements of the typical cult experience while adding a necessary personal touch to keep it relevant and original. This was an entertaining and enjoyable weekend read. 

Thank you, Mulholland Books, for the advanced copy. The opinions are my own.
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This was an interesting read. It kept me guessing and had me constantly feeling like something bad was about to happen. I enjoyed uncovering the pieces of the puzzle in this book and exploring Amy's psychological state after being raised in an extreme cult for most of her life. I was rooting for her the whole way through.

The ending of this one left me pretty chilled, though, and pondering the logistics and psychology of a cult for hours after I finished the book. Conclusion: they are scary.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Creepy. This is such a fall vibe book. Great to hand sell to fans of horror, mystery or even true crime. A totally engaging read.
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A twisty psychological thriller told through the view points of past and present.

In the beginning, I found the narrative confusing and slow, but it picked up for a decent finale. I'll be honest, I started this months ago and put it aside because it wasn't holding my interest. Upon reading a few reviews on it and how good the ending was, I decided to give it another go, and I'm glad I did. 

Once Amy and Freya's stories start to come together, I couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened. I needed to understand why Freya was so protective and how all these missing kids related to the current events. Though I wasn't fully surprised by way things turned out, it was still quite the ending. What was almost a DNF and sitting at at 3 star rating in my mind, made it's way up to a solid 4.

Thank you to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review
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This book surprised me.  I didn't like it that much at first but it really grew on me.  I got really involved in both Amy and Freya's story.  The final two twists surprised me but fit in with the theme of is there anyone you can trust after that level of damage and destructiveness.  It was a smart book, while I understand why the author made the names so similar and why two names, it ended up being confusing
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A roller coaster of emotions and twists and turns.  The story centers around teenager Amy and mom Frey’s and the cult the Elders.  Freyas and Amy’s world collide with devastating consequences
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I was excited to read In the Clearing because I love cult stories and the cult in the story resembles The Family cult.

The story is fast paced and weaves together two different timelines, but it was a little confusing to follow at times. The cult bits where Amy details her childhood were terrifying, but the story with present day Freya was boring and I found myself wanting to skip ahead to the cult bits. 

Overall, I was underwhelmed 🤷🏻‍♀️. Needed more creepy cult parts and less yoga-mom fretting.
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A thriller, set in Australia, this is a story of a cult and felt eerily similar to the real cult The Family, This is a very hard review for me to write, as I just did not love this book. I found myself just trying to get through it. At least the book had a fast pace.

Amy grew up in the Clearing all her life with her siblings and that is all she knew. One day Freya joins the group with her young son and Amy’s eye’s open up to the possibilities of what is on the outside.

As you read the book, it has dual timelines, told weeks and days prior to the pivotal event of a kidnapping and the days just after. This book just was just so-so. I found it very dull, for this thriller genre. I personally love cult stories, but this one did not come together for me, like I personally wanted.

Thank you NetGalley and Mulholland Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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Review of Digital Galley

The kidnapping of seven-year-old Sara McFetridge by members of the Clearing makes her the eleventh child brought into the cult for its leader, Adrienne. The children, [abused and brainwashed into believing they must protect their mother, Adrienne, because she is divine], all believe that when they take a child from the world and bring him or her to the Clearing they are saving that child. As the oldest of the children, Amy is the one selected to help Sara adjust to the Clearing, even as far as correcting her behavior.  

But Sara, now called Asha, tells Amy that the world outside the Clearing is not how the adults in the Clearing have described it to her. The world Amy knows offers harsh punishments, there's never enough food to eat and, despite the brainwashing that tells her it is wrong to question, Amy wonders if there could be any truth in what Asha says.

While everyone searches for Sara, Freya Heywood, who constantly frets over the safety of her seven-year-old son, Billy, feels as if someone is watching her and goes so far as to have panic buttons installed in their home. Then, despite the trained guard dog, her son vanishes from his bed, and she realizes her paranoia was justified. But who took Billy and will Freya be able to find him before the unthinkable happens?

Tension and suspense permeate this intense narrative with Freya and Amy alternately divulging bits and pieces of the unfolding story. Supporting this telling of the tale are several excerpts from Amy’s journal. Well-drawn and believable characters populate the creepy narrative . . . some are innocent while others are unlikable, manipulative, or downright evil. 

Surprising and unexpected twists keep the dark and foreboding narrative veering away from what readers believe they know; the truth is often in very short supply and readers will find it almost impossible not to feel sympathy for the children stolen from their families and imprisoned within the cult. The disturbing story, both riveting and enigmatic, is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. 

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this digital galley from Mulholland Books and NetGalley 
#InTheClearing #NetGalley
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A real page-turner! This book was an easy-reading peek into a cult that helped me pass the time one summer afternoon. It seems like the main character is safely cosseted away from modern society but she, of course, isn't. It sort of reminded me of some real-life Australian cults that operated right in towns and ended up having some members living right near newer members and having run-ins.
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This book has rave reviews on GR so maybe I'm missing something.
I've been waiting to get my hands on it for over a year, so my expectations were possibly too high. Either way, I found this book tedious, confusing and it ultimately went nowhere.
I kept reading to find out the connection between Amy and Freya, though I'm not sure why as I didn't find either character particularly interesting.

I hate to be that person because I loved Call Me Evie and Tell Me Lies.
I don't want to take anything away from J.P. Pomare because he's clearly an excellent writer.
This book just wasn't for me.

Thank you to NetGalley for Mulholland Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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If you pick up this book you will be hooked from the beginning – like it or not. I have to say this is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve ever read. The content is extremely intense and it's like watching a train wreck, I wanted to stop but really wanted to know what happened. A great thriller with unpredictability and I was mesmerized by the story and how it was told by Freya and Amy. The plot twists and turns splendidly. 

Deeply haunting, but very well written with fantastic insight into human behavior. It explores how hope springs from even the worst disaster. The author is very creative and I have not read anything similar, plus that ending! If you are looking for something different, it’s worth a try. You won’t be disappointed.
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After reading Call Me Evie last year I needed this book in my hands. In The Clearing was another 5 star read! J.P Pomare is officially on my favorite authors list... 

Damn! This book was so ####ing good!! I was hooked from page one and couldn't put it down. This is definitely a read in one sitting or late into the night kind of book ... 

I'm so so sooooo fascinated by cults and this book seriously delivered!! I loved that the book was broken up into different parts and my mind was blown several times with the plot twists. Wow! I'm not saying a thing because I don't want to give anything away but if you haven't read this book, DO!! I'm going to be thinking about this book for awhile ... 

Huge thank you to Mulholland Books and Netgalley for my review copy!
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Atmospheric and creepy, this is one of those books you read between your fingers as you cover your eyes because you just have to know what happens! Perfect FALL read.
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