Shortly before her eighteenth birthday, Rhiannon Morgan runs away from the remote Welsh village of Llandymna. Camping out in Dyrys Woods, she starts to make a new life for herself. In the woods she finds space for her active imagination--weaving together the stories she loves and memories of her past, including the mother she lost thirteen years ago.
Back in the village, Rhiannon's disappearance triggers a series of events that uncover the cracks in Llandymna's quiet surface. Relationships become frayed as a young police officer is forced to investigate his neighbors, and the village's elderly storyteller hints at a secret that the older generation has kept for decades. But as painful as the village's past may be, it may hold the key for hope in the present.
Claire Wong's strong debut explores how human relationships develop, how we change as we interact with one another, and the role of folktales and mythology in small communities.
The Runaway by Claire Wong starts off with Rhiannon, a 17 year old girl, in the midst of her decision to run away after yet another argument with her aunt Diane. As the story goes back and forth, we get Rhiannon’s time in the woods, making up stories and withdrawing into her own little world, and then we get the viewpoint of the village of Llandymyna. Rhiannon’s disappearance has shocked the whole town, not just her Aunt’s. The village itself becomes a character as the appearance of a peaceful town slowly begins to crumble and a secret long held from the outside world begins to resurface. There are key characters like Maebh a kindly grandmotherly figure who tries to remind the town of the past through her stories and she is burdened by the town’s secrecy and willingness to forget its past mistakes.
Against this backdrop we have two outside strangers, a brother and a sister, who have come for answers and the secrets this town thought long buried and only known to them come back in startling clarity.
This was a definitely a different read for me, it was a bit of a slower read. I did enjoy the author’s writing and how we really got a complete narrative with first person and third person points of view. There was a little bit of suspense, little bit coming of age story, and a little bit of coming to grips with the past. I liked visiting Wales where this story took place; the old world and fairytalesque atmosphere the author set her contemporary story in was interesting as well.
I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.