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Flyaway

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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,373 ratings  ·  374 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
...more
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published July 28th 2020 by Tor.com
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,373 ratings  ·  374 reviews


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chai ♡
The experience of reading this book is almost surreal. Flyaway has the quality of a dream that thins into wisps the moment you try to describe it. There’s a strange, almost drunken sense of unreality throughout, as if the world the author created would shift the moment you had your back turned. As if I might jolt awake at any second, lift my head, and find myself in a darkening room, alone, the book still left open on my chest. A part of my mind still thinks I imagined it, pages and spine and al ...more
Krystal
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
...more
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.
...more
AnnaLuce
★★✰✰✰ 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
...more
Marchpane
‘...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
...more
Juliet
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. ...more
Cassandra
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
...more
Joseph
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
...more
elisa
Dec 13, 2020 rated it liked it
this is one of those works that, while weak in execution, was so linguistically beautiful i know i’ll be returning to it in the future
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
...more
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
...more
Kim
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
...more
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
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.
Billie
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.
Blackjack
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. ...more
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
...more
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.
ℳacarena
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)
...more
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
...more
Andy Weston
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I may scream at the Aussies for their cricketing exploits, but there currently is one thing they are doing well, their horror writing.
In particular two young women writers. Kaaron Warren's Into Bones like Oil which was one of my favourite novels of last year. And now this, another novella, and a debut also. Jennings's book may not be quite as good as Warren's, but I say that in a good way - its got weird elements that require some careful reading... Indeed, part of its strength is that it is so
...more
Lata
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I listened to much of this story, and was:
-Confused, and not entirely sure what was going on, beyond understanding that main character Bettina’s father and brothers were missing, and no one in town knew what happened to them or where they went.
-Growing increasingly creeped out by Bettina’s mother, whose icily worded directives to control Bettina’s behaviour were cutting and oddly scary, even though nothing violent was ever expressed.
-Absolutely loving the writing.
-Absolutely loving al
...more
Alan Baxter
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this. Lyrical and hypnotising, dark and weird, Australian Gothic for an Australia that never quite was and yet always will be. This book is a delight.
Silvana
DNF at 35%. Too many build up, lack of excitement. They say this is an Aussie Gothic novel, but I am not feeling the gothic part. Nice cover, though.
Yogaa Lakshmi
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
First of all, the creepy cover design is awesome! Beautiful yet uncanny just like the story in this novella.

The novella follows Bettina (Tina) Scott, a nineteen year old woman who lives with her conservative, prim and manipulative mother. Three years after the inexplicable disappearance of her father and brothers, when she receives a note with 'YOU COWARD, TINK' sprawled on it, she sets on finding her long-lost-thought-to-be-dead brothers and to fill the gaping holes in her memory with the help
...more
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,
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
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
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Play Book Tag: (Fly the PBT Skies) Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings - 2 stars 1 10 Apr 04, 2021 05:42AM  

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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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