Beautiful Australian Gothic Books

Gouache painting in pinks, purples, blues, and greens, of standing boulders, grass, birds flying against clouds
Painting by me, after a trip to Hanging Rock, while working on Flyaway — more on those illustrations at Illustrating Flyaway (who published Flyaway) asked me for a post for their Five Books About… series. I promptly forgot how to count, so here are:

Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic

Flyaway among NPR’s Best Books!

Flyaway has been included in the NPR’s Best Books of 2020!

You can sort the full list by a number of categories, which I recommend doing as there are many and varied books on it. Jessica P. Wick’s review of Flyaway is here:

And you can buy Flyaway through all good bookstores and the usual online suspects.

“The Heart of Owl Abbas” reviews

Here are two reviews I missed for my (Eugie Foster Memorial Award-shortlisted) short story “The Heart of Owl Abbas” (and an excuse to post Audrey Benjaminsen‘s beautiful illustration for it again).

art by Audrey Benjaminsen (I love it)

Charles Payseur: Quick Sips – Tor dot com April 2018

“Framed as a bit of history, part anecdote and part fairy tale or myth, the piece is quietly moving and archetypal, sweeping and sweet and dark all at once…. It’s a piece that looks very much at the almost accidental power of small good things.”

Iseult Murphy: The Heart of Owl Abbas by Kathleen Jennings

“not only does it produce a literary treasure, it’s also a story very much about music, and she somehow manages to incorporate its movement and emotional resonance into the narrative as well.”

You can read the story for free on, or buy it as an ebook at the usual online locations.

Natalie Meree reviews Flyaway

A lovely review of Flyaway by Natalie Meree.

Flyaway: Locus review

Rich Horton’s review of Flyaway has been included in the New & Notable Books column of the October Locus magazine (see more excellent books reviewed in the column here).

It was also reviewed in Locus earlier in the year (at greater length) by Katharine Coldiron:

“It should be no surprise that Kathleen Jennings’s debut novel is splendid and unusual, that it feels like a dispatch from another, finer world, that it frightens and enchants in the same breath.”

“The Present Only Toucheth Thee” reviews

Karen Burnham, reviewing for Locus, said of my little story “The Present Only Toucheth Thee” (Strange Horizons):

In ”The Present Only Toucheth Thee” by Kathleen Jennings, two beings have intertwined fates over the millennia. One seems near immortal, building a book over eons, while the other is continually reincarnated. It’s a beautiful, macabre story that muses on how such a relationship might finally end.

Maria Haskins, for Curious Fictions, wrote:

Oh my goodness, what a gloriously strange tale this is. A book with a magic all its own, tying together two souls and two very long lives. Jennings writes with exquisite style and flair, as we follow two individuals through time and through the world, finding out how chance and/or fate has entwined them through their very long existence (whether in the same bodies, or not). Evocative and beautiful in every part.

And I’ve posted Charles Payseur’s (relatively) long thoughtful review previously.

 It’s a lovely complicating and expansion of the referenced poem through a speculative lens and it’s certainly a story well worth spending some time with. A fine read!

The Present Only Toucheth Thee” is online in Strange Horizons‘ 8 June issue, and is also up as a podcast, read by Anaea Lay and with a rather creepy little postscript.

Flyaway reviews and interview

Flyaway was recommended on WAMCRadio’s Book Picks by Connie Brooks at Battenkill Books! And in some EXTREMELY good company.

Jemimah Brewster reviewed Flyaway for Artshub:

Flyway is a brilliant piece of Australian Gothic literature; the dread in the air, the macabre details lurking in the shadows, and the unease of the landscape that Jennings writes is so unsettling it’s like every creepy, weird campfire ghost story rolled together, with a heavy dose of sinister fairy tale thrown in.

And here is an interview Harry Spiteri did with me last November at the World Fantasy Convention, before Flyaway came out (although ARCs were just beginning to be in circulation). He has just released it as the first episode of The Harry Spiteri Show:

And here is Harry reading Flyaway on a boat:

Photo by

Also: On Friday night (US)/Saturday morning (AUS) I’m talking about Flyaway and art and writing games for the Storied Imaginarium!

And further: Travelogues can be ordered now, and is out next week!

Flyaway: Locus Review and 3CR interview

Katharine Coldiron’s review of Flyaway for Locus magazine is now up on their website.

“It should be no surprise that Kathleen Jennings’s debut novel is splendid and unusual, that it feels like a dispatch from another, finer world, that it frightens and enchants in the same breath.”

And I had a great conversation with David McLean of “Published or Not” on 3CR community radio in Melbourne, which is now online here:

(Flyaway is now available through all good bookstores and the usual online suspects.)

SBTB reviews Flyaway!

Such a lovely surprise to get a review for Flyaway from, of all places. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books — only a little of the surprise is because Flyaway is not (as Carrie points out) romance. Mainly it is because I have a longstanding affection for SBTB, and it is a very nice review, and I wasn’t expecting it at all.

Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings — by Carrie S

… I adored this novella. ADORED it. I love the imagery, the atmosphere, the incredible tactile quality of the world as described, the structure, and the reveal of what is happening with Bettina and her family. This is some of the best prose I’ve ever read in terms of description. Just look at this, and tell me you don’t feel these descriptions of trees right on your skin and in your eyes…

Fanart! and three reviews

A circle made by the stem of a flying vine. On it perch two small birds, saying "monster" and "coward" across the circle at each other.
Art by Justin Devine on Drawn to Culture

Fanart! The first I’ve received! It accompanies a review below, and it is just perfect and allusive — those two little birds calling insults at each other. I love it.

Drawn to Culture

Justin Devine wrote and illustrated a lovely review of Flyway over on Drawn to Culture: Flyaway review

“One of my favorite concepts this book plays with is the idea of folklore as invasive species, and what happens to stories when they’re exported to unfamiliar lands…”

I really like the combination of reviews and fanart — so I’ve spoken to Justin about that since and will tell you more soon…

Washington Independent Review of Books

Mariko Hewer wrote a thoughtful review of Flyaway for the Washington Independent review of books: Flyaway review. (FYI — this is not a spoilery review but it does follow the plot along reasonably far).

“As you might imagine, Flyaway is not the sort of book to tie every loose end into a beautiful bow for the reader’s sake. But it will leave you feeling deeply satisfied…”

The Canberra Times

Colin Steele also reviewed Flyaway for The Canberra Times: An impressive mixture of gothic and folklore

“it’s almost Jane Harper meets Garth Nix”

As an aside, I am thoroughly enjoying all the connections people make between Flyaway and other books. Jane Harper and Garth Nix. Angela Carter and E Nesbit….