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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  748 ratings  ·  248 reviews
In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers—a note that makes question her memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure.

A beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun, Flyaway introduces readers to Bettina Scott, whose se
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published July 28th 2020 by
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  748 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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chai ♡
This was shiveringly uncanny, and very, very good.

Full review to come.
Ummmm I think I'm in love.

The story is about Bettina (Tina), who goes searching for answers about what happened to her family. Along the way, we get stories within her story; although I wouldn't consider this a book of short stories as all of the shorter stories contribute to the plot.

Things I loved

It's an Australian setting, but it's not all dry heat, scorched earth, blokes and sheilas and roos and Mick and Shazza having a fag and a stubby etc. I freaking LOATHE those Aussie stereotypes so it w
Alix Harrow
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A dark family fairy tale steeped in monsters and magic. Australian folk-horror with a strong Shirley Jackson vibe. Prose that lurks and bites and snatches at your ankles.

It's so good, y'all.
Anna Luce
★★✰✰✰ 2 stars

While Kathleen Jennings is an undeniably wonderful illustrator, I'm afraid that I wasn't particularly impressed by her novella. What first struck me as somewhat discordant in Flyaway was the prose itself. At times the writing was clunky and there were passages that seemed as if they were trying to echo someone else's style. The way Flyaway started was also incredibly reminiscent of my favourite novel by Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. While in Jackson's novel
‘...somewhere between the Coral Sea and the Indian Ocean but on the way to nowhere’

Flyaway brings us gothic fairytales and folk horror set in familiar, dusty-but-tidy towns, hours from anywhere, surrounded by a vast sun-bleached landscape.

Nineteen-year-old Bettina, prim, skittish, ostracised by the insular town, is a Shirley Jackson heroine transplanted to the Australian bush. When she receives a scrawled note reading ‘YOU COWARD, TINK’ it becomes clear that Bettina has gaping holes in her
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeously written, in language that brings alive the deep mystery of the Australian landscape. This is a dark tale of family and community secrets, in which memory, rumour and folklore interweave as Bettina goes in search of her lost brothers. It's tricky, it's challenging, it's beautiful. The story will draw you right into a world where nothing is quite what it seems. Illustrated with Kathleen's own art work - she is equally talented as illustrator and writer.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
We tend to associate dark fiction with “literal” darkness – with shadows, haunted houses, twilight apparitions and “things that go bump in the night”. Similarly, the “North”, with its long winter nights and its mythology of fairies, trolls and diverse monsters, seems more attuned to conventional supernatural fiction than the Southern Hemisphere.

But just as Ari Aster’s movie Midsommar showed us that there can be dark horror in the unending daylight of a Nordic summer, Kathleen Jennings’ beguiling
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is upsetting in the way writing by Brooke Bolander and Cat Valente is upsetting: there's an effortless grace to the prose, an ease with which the writer jewels their descriptions, that feels like magic out of the reach of of the mundane. I'm endlessly stopping as I go to marvel over the writing, drink up the easy beauty of it. Like, 'a blue smell of rubber' is so goddamned evocative yet so spare, I want to eat my damn wrist.

Or this, goddamnit, 'the sky blue as breath, as enamel, or bea
Amy Imogene Reads
Mar 31, 2020 marked it as to-read
Literally can’t contain how excited I was to get my NetGalley approval for this one. So perfect, can’t wait!

Thank you to TOR via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Holly (The Grimdragon)
“There aren’t any stories except the ones we bring with us,” Trish Aberdeen used to say, stamping into the long grass after school, as if she wanted it to be true (as if she didn’t keep thinking she’d seen wolves and tigers stalking her in the scrub). Gary Damson, who knew better, who suspected Trish knew better too, would hold his tongue.

Because even if she was right, something had to happen to all the stories no one wanted. Histories and memories that had been taken into the trees, beyond the
Magical writing perfect for a fairytale Australian gothic story.
The author relies much on our colonial settler past and the supernatural spirits of the old country, gives an English/Irish village folklore feel to the story. There's traces of Little Red riding hood lost in the forest and Briar Rose's thorny dense impenetrable thickets covering a school house, but those are only small parts of the overall story.
One I may go back and reread the prose is fabulous. An amazing debut.
"That triangle t
Kali Napier
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Utterly compelling. Dark and light. This Gothic fable that can only have been crafted from the blood-soaked dirt and rust and trees and sky and wire-fenced towns of Western Queensland. Jennings' prose is beguiling, making me want to linger over the words, take them in. I loved how the stories within stories were limned by older fairy tales that conjured reminiscences from my childhood: the gruesome, unsanitised Grimms. Highly recommended. And like the best fairy tales, will be read again and aga ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an hallucinatory fever dream of a fairy tale that kept me up past my bed time just so that I could finish.
This book simply isn't grabbing my attention right now. I can probably attribute this more to all the turmoil going on right now rather than to the book itself. DNF.
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Written by Australian Kathleen Jennings, Flyaway is a novella full of stories within stories, delivered in a shroud of myth, legend, folklore and superstition that kept me guessing.

Our protagonist Bettina has a mysterious past and she's determined to find out what happened to her brothers - and herself - several years ago.

Set in outback Australia, the beautiful writing, evocative descriptions and imagery brought the once familiar landscape to life in a new and eerie light. The rural area was bot
Brittany Smith
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
A solid three stars for me because it did eventually pick up.
Disclaimer: this book was SUPER confusing in the beginning. The very first chapter quite literally put me to sleep because it was entirely descriptions of a town. Nothing felt coherent at ALL in the beginning. Personally not my favorite books to read in general.
I think the thing to keep in mind of what this book is actually about: small town in the middle of nowhere where creepy cryptid-esque creatures are afoot and the main character
Corey White
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A tale of small-town claustrophobia, family strife and secrets, and stories within stories, set against a backdrop of a uniquely Australian landscape so vivid you can smell the dust and eucalyptus.
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews, fantasy
Woooow! This has been a delightful read.
I love Kathleen Jennings's writing style.

The story is like a dark fairy tale, full of magic, mystery and darkness.
Once you start reading, it gets difficult to stop. You are already immersed in the story. You are now a part of the story, and, as well as the characters from Runagate, you cannot simply leave the town.

Another thing I really liked was the stories between chapters. You can see they are inspired by popular fairy tales.

The cover (this US version)
M. (Inside My Library Mind)
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

This is a really bad case of "it's not you, it's me". To be fair, I never would have picked this up on my own, but the publisher were kind enough to send this one alongside another proof I requested. While these kinds of stories always seem so interesting and wonderful to me, I know that I do not vibe well with fairytale-esque narratives.

I am hugely dependent on characters in my reading, I cannot focus nor stand a story that puts characters se
Pan Macmillan Australia
Kathleen creates a sense of dread early on with staccato sentences and detailed descriptions. From there you get involved with the protagonist slowly breaking away from her mothers' constant strange comments and embarks on a search for her missing father and brothers with two people she knows but whose friendship is fraught with tensions of their own. There are references and allegories of classic fairytales littered throughout the story.

Kathleen deftly builds the sense of something not quite ri
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Flyaway gave me strong Shirley Jackson We Have Always Lived in the Castle vibes. Dark, despite the harsh Australian sun, atmospheric, family secrets - it was breathtaking. While nothing was overtly scary, Jennings' beautiful and haunting prose sometimes made my skin crawl and shiver even though I was reading the book outside on a sunny 85 degree day.

Flyaway was a treat to read. I plowed through it within an afternoon, completely unable to set it down. Jennings's writing was heady and left me wi
Didi Chanoch
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am, to be frank, quite upset. Not because of the many ways in which this beautiful novella is intentionally upsetting. No. I am upset because no one who is as good at illustration as Kathleen Jennings should be this good at writing. It's genuinely unfair to the rest of us, who can't draw a stick figure and still aren't this good at writing!

This is a deeply disturbing, deeply beautiful novella, weaving in myths and fables of various origins. It's dark and gothic, but not quite horror. At least,
Bri (booksnparchment)
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you so much for the ARC Macmillan-To/Forge, this sounds like something I'm going to love! I can't wait to read it!

Flyaway is a beautifully written, creepy, and atmospheric story. Gorgeous imagery is the backdrop is this creepy tale. The story is rooted in the mystery of Bettina’s yearning to find her father. And when she receives a mysterious letter, she must figure out the truth of her story.

The story was very reminiscent of Neil Gaiman with elements of magical realism, where monsters an
Megan Bell
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Australian gothic fairy tale creepiness! Bettina Scott is a devoted daughter who lives alone with her mother in the village of Runagate surrounded by bush. When a note arrives, disturbing memories surface of her wild, vanished father and brothers. Joined by two estranged friends with histories of their own, the trio will encounter curses and creatures, hauntings and enchantments that have spanned generations under the searing Australian sun. Sharp and unsettling, this novella reminded me of Shir ...more
Lynn Williams
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/4 of 5 stars
My TL:DR Five Word Review : Fairytale-fuelled-small-town-creepiness
Flyaway is a book of family horror intertwined with fairytale elements told in an extravagant fashion and set in the searing heat of small town Australia. Similar to fairy tales, at the heart of Flyaway lurks a mystery, family secrets and a dark and sinister outcome that quite belies the flowery prose and beautifully illustrated cover.

In a nutshell, this started off rather s
Cass Moriarty
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh, what a strange and wonderful gothic novella is Flyaway (Picador 2020) by debut author Kathleen Jennings. The prose in this magical story is beautiful, evocative, and endlessly fascinating. It reads like a fairy tale or a fable, a myth or a legend. Set in outback Queensland, where country folk believe in superstitions and the power of the unknown, magical realism blends seamlessly with a tangible story of a young woman living a quiet life in the small town of Runagate. Bettina lives with her ...more
Marta Cox
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Bettina has grown up in a small town in Australia where people seem to just up and disappear. She's a young woman who has had good manners and decorum drummed into her by her somewhat aloof mother. Her father left them and even her two brothers disappeared but Bettina has very little recollection of the circumstances until a note turns up. Bettina has shied away from others in town knowing her mother expects her to always be ladylike but she needs answers and finally reaches out but what she dis ...more
Iseult Murphy
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A thing of beauty

This slim volume is a thing of beauty. The illustrations are as exquisite as the detailed, textured writing.
It’s impossible not to love any book that contains a thylacine.
My favorite parts of this novella were the versions of classic fairy tales given an Australian twist.
My only quibble with this tale is that I couldn’t picture the main characters of Bettina, Patricia and Gary as teenagers. There seemed too much time and sorrow between them for them to be 19 year olds. I woul
Danielle Trussoni
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kathleen Jennings’s FLYAWAY reads like a fairy tale, one in which everything is slightly off-kilter. Bettina Scott, who lives with her odd, controlling mother, is at the center of a number of family mysteries in her village of Runagate, a place where you’ll find “roses planted in wire-fenced gardens on the buried corpses of roadside kangaroos.” Jennings’s sentences are startling, requiring one to look close, then step away; just as a Gaudí construction — the Sagrada Família, for example — demand ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic
Flyaway gave me strong Shirley Jackson We Have Always Lived in the Castle vibes. Dark, despite the harsh Australian sun, atmospheric, family secrets - it was breathtaking. While nothing was overtly scary, Jennings' beautiful and haunting prose sometimes made my skin crawl and shiver even though I was reading the book outside on a sunny 85 degree day.

Flyaway was a treat to read. I plowed through it within an afternoon, completely unable to set it down. Jennings's writing was heady and left me wi
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Kathleen Jennings is an illustrator and writer based in Brisbane, Australia. As an illustrator, she has been shortlisted three times for the World Fantasy Awards, once for the Hugos, and once for the Locus Awards, as well as winning a number of Ditmars. As a writer, she has won two Ditmars and been shortlisted for the Eugie Foster Memorial Award and for several Aurealis Awards.

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