In The Clearing by J. P. Pomare Book Review

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.

What did I think?

Inspired by an Australian New Age Cult, In the Clearing uses dual narratives to create this dark and twisted story of abduction, brainwashing and ‘family’.


Walking home from school, a young girl is kidnapped off the side of the road. The perpetrator is a teenage girl named Amy who is being instructed by her ‘family’. Following their instructions, Amy doses a rag and holds it against her face until she passes out inside the van – this is how she first meets her new sister.

Amy’s narrative and diaries paint a clear picture of ‘The Clearing’, a volatile cult lead by Adrienne, the female Messiah. About as charismatic as they come, Adrienne – otherwise known as ‘the Queen’ – is believed to be the living reincarnation of Jesus Christ. She exploits the power that comes with this title by controlling her devotees through fear and violent punishments on a quest to bring them to the truth – whatever that means!

It’s chilling to read Amy’s account of living in ‘The Clearing’. Raised to mistrust all outsiders and believe that vigilance must always be upheld, Amy is clearly being manipulated to believe that her very out of the ordinary lifestyle is ‘ordinary’. When the little girl begins to challenge her ideals, we start to see a new side to Amy that is both interesting and shocking.


On the other side we have Freya, a single mother who lives on an isolated property with her six year old son. Constantly on high-alert and obviously trying to run from her past, Freya does her best to come across as ‘normal’ – that is until a series of events force her to confront what she’s been running from. When she hears about the disappearance of a young girl and she stumbles upon trespassers on her property, Freya’s journey takes a turn.

The story

The use of misdirection in this book is flawless. Pomare cleverly layers the story with subtle clues but it isn’t until the final twists are revealed that you truly understand his genius. The pacing is deliciously slow and essential information is revealed at the perfect moments – meaning you’re constantly on edge and fearful for these characters.

If you love a thriller, this is not one to be missed! Full of dark and carefully thought out twists, In the Clearing takes the best themes of the genre and crafts them to near perfection.

4.5/5 stars

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