#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · Book Stack Insiders · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans

Title: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer

Author: Ilsa Evans

Published: September 1st 2021

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 480

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

Two women abduct and hide out with their four-year-old granddaughter Avery, who they suspect is being harmed. They both love Avery … shame they can’t stand each other. A wise and witty novel for readers of Sophie Green and Brooke Davis.

What would you do to protect a child?

Beth’s daughter Cleo and Shirley’s son Daniel used to be married. Now Cleo is in gaol for supposedly contravening a family violence order, and Daniel has full-time care of their four-year-old daughter, Avery.

When Shirley suspects that Daniel is harming Avery, she enlists Beth to abduct their own granddaughter, even though the two women can’t stand each other. They are joined on the run across country Victoria by Winnie, Shirley’s own 89-year-old tech-savvy mother, and Harthacnut, Beth’s miniature schnauzer.

The abduction gives rise to crises both personal and social, as Shirley’s large and interfering family – including her toxic son – struggle to come to terms with her actions, amid a whirl of police investigation and media excitement. This heartfelt, wise, witty and wholly original novel explores the lengths we may go to for those we love, and the unintended damage folded into daily life.

Review:

Ilsa Evans is the bestselling author of fourteen novels across a number of different genres and she returns with a new release titled, The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer. A compassionate story of love, protection, trust, belonging, understanding and family responsibilities, Ilsa Evans presents her audience with witty tale filled with plenty of soul.

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer considers the lengths family members go to for their loved ones to secure their safety and wellbeing. The separation of two core characters to this story, Cleo and Daniel, sets in motion a difficult series of events for the cast to contend with in The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer. When her mother is placed in gaol, a four-year-old girl is placed under the full care of her father Daniel. But suspicions are soon cast on Daniel when his mother picks up on some serious issues which all sadly indicate that Avery is being abused. Shirley is very concerned for Avery’s welfare and she decides to make the difficult move in securing the help of Cleo’s mother to remove their granddaughter from further harm. The two decide to take drastic action, which sees this unlikely duo embark on a state wide road trip. But they also have Shirley’s mother accompanying them, along with Beth’s dog. The shock removal of Avery from Daniel’s care sends everyone in a spin, from other family members, to the authorities and even the media. Despite handling the situation rather inappropriately, Shirley and Beth have their granddaughter’s best interests at heart.

Ilsa Evans is new face to me, but after a quick read of her website, I was quite shocked to discover that Evans is the author of fourteen novels. The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer is the latest release from the Victorian based writer, who balances public speaking with her TAFE work and writing endeavours. With a university background in gender issues and violence against women, Evans has penned a novel that tackles some serious conflicts in a fictional format.

Balancing a number of different viewpoints, mostly from a female and mature aged perspective, The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer successfully integrates the emotions of three contrasted figures. Although all three women who guide the direction of this story are in their twilight years, they are full of life and energy. I managed to click with each of these likeable protagonists. However, I did develop a stronger connection to Winnie, the eldest crew member of this eventful road trip. Winnie is just delightful and she manages to make the reader smile many times over thanks to her antics. I found the scenes involving Winne the most engaging and witty. Evans also inhabits the innocent viewpoint of young Avery, the titular character of this story. I was pleased that the author managed to convey the events of this tale from an age-appropriate lens. Evans covers many different bases in this all-encompassing narrative.

Evans presents a very original concept in her new release. I liked the intent of this adventurous and meaningful road trip, especially in regards to child protection. Evans embeds other hard going themes such as loss, guilt, relationships, family ties, expectation, motherhood, wrong choices, the media, disagreements, abuse and neglect within her novel. There is an overarching theme of ageing and invisibility in regards to our older female population, which is definitely a topic that deserves plenty of attention. Many of these common but sad issues will strike a chord with readers. Evans presents these core topics in a sensitive, balanced and informative manner. The careful writing style, well timed comedic moments, along with the level of respect the author devotes to her main subject focus made The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer a very good read. I was a little at odds with the ending and I think this aspect of the tale is the only area that made me feel conflicted, but it was closed off in a succinct manner.

A judicious tale that contains plenty of heart, understanding, humour and reflection, The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer is a poignant story that gives a voice to family trauma and ageing.

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans was published on 1st September 2021 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer, Ilsa Evans, visit here.

The Unusual Abduction of Ilsa Evans is book #84 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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