Thursday, 16 September 2021

Book Review & Giveaway: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer 
Ilsa Evans
Two grandmothers. They both love Avery. Shame they can't stand each other.

Imprint: HQ Fiction AU
Publication date: 1st September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 480
RRP: $ 29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback (Uncorrected proof)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
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 of the lengths we may go to for those we love, and the unintended damage folded into daily life.
My review
In The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer Ilsa Evans explores the conundrum faced by grandparents to intervene or not when they fear their grandchild may be being neglected or abused.
Shirley Conifer has been noticing bruises on four year old Avery. She confronts her son, Daniel, and he retaliates by not allowing her to see Avery. When the next time Avery is dropped off she sees more bruising she can't not interfere, deciding she must hide Avery until she can talk Daniel into getting help. With her eighty-nine year old mother and four year old Avery she goes to see Beth, Avery's other grandmother, and they hatch a plan to keep Avery safe.
Child abuse is a difficult subject however it is handled sensitively and offset with humour as the two grandmother and great-grandmother try to get along for Avery's sake.

This is a story about family; mother's and their children. Daniel is a narcissist, charismatic and a good manipulator and the idea of nature or nurture is explored as Shirley feels all the guilt over his behaviour. Beth's daughter Cleo is serving a four month prison term for breaching an IVO,  Beth wonders where she went wrong.
As the women hide out they slowly start to understand each other. Beth is self-righteous and hilariously judgemental whilst Shirley is meek, always apologising. I felt 89 year old Winnie was the star of the story. Sharp as a tack and totally tech savvy. Winnie was happy to be ignored. She could do all sorts of things, being ignored was her super power. Winnie's antics had me laughing again and again. Whereas this feeling of invisibility was upsetting to Shirley.
"In some ways it was to her benefit if people underestimated her. Or even thought that she was senile" - Winnie

Ilsa Evans smashes the ageist stereotypes in this book.

Told from multiple points of view, thirteen in all. However each character is gradually introduced so it doesn't overwhelm. I did notice though that they were all women. The males in the book were generally backseat observers.

I really enjoyed this family drama filled with laugh out loud moments and characters I could truly connect with. Ilsa draws on her experiences on the board of a women and children's refuge to create real characters in compelling situations.

I also enjoyed the exploration of the relationship between the two grandmothers and the different mother / daughter relationships taking place throughout the novel. Even the subtle look at DS Elsa Kaltenbrunner's relationship with her mother.

My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Photo:Studio3 Photography

Ilsa Evans has published fourteen books across a range of genres, from light fiction and short stories to memoir, murder mystery and YA fantasy. Two of her books have been shortlisted for the prestigious Davitt (Sisters in Crime) Awards, while her novel about domestic violence, Broken, was an Australian best-seller and selected as Women's Weekly Book of the Month. Ilsa also teaches creative writing students, writes social commentary, and has been published in several newspapers and online journals. In 2011, she received the Eliminating Violence Against Women (EVA) Award for online journalism. 
            AUTHOR WEBSITE
 Thanks to The Reading Nook online bookstore you can win 1 of 2 paperback copies of The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer 

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Enter via the form below (open to Australian addresses only) Entries close at midnight on  27th September 2021.
This giveaway is now closed and the winners were announced here.


  1. This looks very unique! I will pay The Reading Nook a visit :)

  2. Child abuse is a difficult subject to hear and read about, I think this book will be quite intriguing.

  3. Sounds like such a great read. Thanks for the opportunity 😊

  4. Looks like an interesting book

  5. I really would like this book

  6. Sounds like an interesting book.

  7. Love Ilsa's novels and can't wait to read this one

    1. I have another three of Ilsa's on my shelf. I'm looking forward to reading them.

  8. As a grandparent, there is always the question... do I say anything? I dont want to interfere but sometimes its important to raise the issue. Looks like a terrific read.

    1. It is a hard situation and Ilsa deals with it very well in the book.

  9. Sounds like a fabulous book. Cannot wait to read!

  10. Sounds fab - would love a copy!!