Book Review: In the Clearing by J.P. Pomare

In the Clearing…

About the Book:


Amy has only ever known life in the Clearing. She knows what’s expected of her. She knows what to do to please her elders, and how to make sure 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 secrets of the past bubble up to the surface, this small town’s dark underbelly will be exposed and lives will be destroyed.

My Thoughts:

I don’t read an awful lot of thrillers as I tend to quickly begin to suffer from ‘thriller fatigue’. As a consequence, I’m fairly selective on which thrillers I read and the timing of them. All of the stars seem to have aligned with this one though. In the Clearing turned out to be a book I couldn’t put down.

‘You never escape a cult.’

Often after having read a thriller, the most common thing you’ll hear is: ‘That twist!’ I can’t say that with this one though, because In the Clearing has as many twists as a wizened old oak tree. It’s imaginatively clever, laying down pavers to walk you in one direction only to explosively change direction – again and again.

‘The past, I realised, was a parasite. It could lie dormant inside for years and eventually flare up and kill you.’

Thematically, In the Clearing offers readers much to think on. It raises those age old questions about nature versus nurture, but it does so within a fairly horrific framework, so be forewarned: there is both implied and depicted child abuse within this story. What alarmed me the most was the absolute conditioning that takes place within a cult, specifically though, the lasting effect of this long after the cult has collapsed. It made me wonder at the susceptibility of some people over others and if once you’ve been conditioned from such a young age, does this mean you can no longer be ‘re-programmed’? I must admit, I find the power of cults over their members rather terrifying, so this is one thriller that literally grabbed me around the throat and held on until the very end.

‘I’ve been played by someone who knows my habits, can predict my every move. Someone who can ensure that all the evidence points to my guilt.’

In terms of plot and predictability, the plot was brilliantly executed and I predicted nothing! Character development was likewise executed with precision. Freya kept me guessing, as did Amy, and there were enough shades of grey within everyone to ensure that I had no idea who was good, who was bad, and who was otherwise. So, all in all, this was good value reading for me! I do think that this novel will appeal widely. It’s clever, gripping, thought provoking, and realistic enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Highly recommended.


Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of In the Clearing for review.

About the Author:

J.P. Pomare is an award winning writer who has had work published in journals including Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe and Mascara Literary Review. He has hosted the On Writing podcast since 2015 featuring bestselling authors from around the globe. His first novel, Call Me Evie, was critically acclaimed and longlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award.
He was born in New Zealand and resides in Melbourne with his wife. In the Clearing is his second novel.

In the Clearing
Published by Hachette Australia
Released on 31st December 2019

11 thoughts on “Book Review: In the Clearing by J.P. Pomare

  1. Pingback: #BookBingo2020 – Round 2: Themes of crime and justice | Theresa Smith Writes

  2. Pingback: Reading: Recommended | book'd out

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s