The prologue is very tense and exciting. Written in the first person, we’re in a forest clearing and there are hooded people closing in. I love prologues like this as while you continue reading, you have this image in the back of your mind, waiting for the time when the connection is made and everything falls into place.
Throughout the book we have two timelines that alternate. Beginning with Riley and a scene where she is trading on the quay with her pa and looking forward to a picnic with Luc we then switch to siblings Liss and FJ 9 years earlier. With Liss we experience the capture and everything that follows whilst with Riley we are in the now … until the timelines merge. Boland leaves us at each timeline knowing enough to hold our interest but not with the full information. Of course this makes the reader want to turn those pages to find out exactly what is going to happen next!
Underlying both threads is fanaticism and the power held by a force that has grown strong. A strength built on brainwashing and religious zeal which is on a path of destruction. If the force isn’t stopped, major consequences will follow. I can’t really say too much because I don’t want to give any spoilers!
Riley is a strong character. Although she’s brave, she also has that underlying lack of confidence that teens feel. I loved it that she did things anyway, acting on instinct. She also feels intense fear at times but still she manages to pull herself together and act with the thought of others before herself. The romance that there is between Riley and Luc is very fragile. The connection is there and strong but the focus in this story is on the mission they undertake. They do get a brief chance to talk about their feelings, but Riley is at that teen stage where she would rather put on a front instead of facing the rejection she is expecting (very true to life!)
Liss is also a strong character. I loved the way she took on a maternal role for 4 year old Annabelle – despite only being 7 herself! This relationship is a key factor when things go wrong. The ceremonies and the fear that Liss feels is really well portrayed. I could feel my limbs shaking and that dread in the pit of my stomach.
FJ is the character we all love to hate. Arrogant, lacking empathy and 100% sure of his place in the world – he really got under my skin. What a fabulous character! He hooked Riley in with his throw-away comment and I can’t wait to see where this will take us in Book Three.
The Clearing is tense, nerve-wracking and with plenty of action. It is a world populated with characters and events that are believable (and therefore quite scary). There is sadness but there is also a familial scene that brought tears to my eyes (for good reasons).
Boland has done it once again. I’ve been engrossed and my imagination has been captured.
I would like to thank the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.