The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer

Title: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer
Author: Isla Evans
Release date: 1st September 2021

First of all, thank you so much to Netgalley AU and Harlequin Australia for the advanced digital copy!


Shirley and Beth abduct their shared granddaughter, having found signs of neglect and abuse on her body. The major suspect is Daniel – Shirley’s son, who has full custody while Cleo (Beth’s daughter) is currently in prison for supposedly infracting on court orders. Along for the journey to hide away from the police and the media until Cleo is released is Shirley’s mother, Winnie and Beth’s dog.    

Content Warnings

Domestic violence, mental health illnesses, child abuse, addiction


I had the pleasure of reading an advanced digital copy of this book. It was a very immersive and empowering read. I love how the characters are very much connected; they are family by blood, by law and then finally by choice. Shirley, Beth and Winnie are aged and vulnerable but they prove to be the most brilliant – by being brave enough to tear the family bonds apart. On the contrary, the younger members of the family (in their 30’s or so) can be too busy with their own lives to be fully invested in the situation.

Characterisation is a strength in this novel; the author switches viewpoints every chapter and I found that the character’s voices are all very quite distinct. The characters are flawed in a very real way. I don’t think I could be Shirley when I’m older – she takes far too much comfort in whiskey, wine and gin for me, yet she’s the one that notices the signs first while Brendan (her husband) is laissez faire. Beth starts off a bit stiff, but she embraces the adventure and she just becomes a solid rock to rely on. Winnie was just wild and surprisingly competent.

The grandmothers do face consequences for simply grabbing their granddaughter and leaving, which makes sense. We’re encouraged to report to child protection services if we know abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, exposure to DV etc.) is happening to children under 18 in real life – but would you? There is  such a large amount of distrust in the authorities (partly why these grannies ran away). But this is why and how young adult novels are written (parents are evil, imprisoned or missing + distrust in authorities). This is the inverted version of this trope.

Overall, I did enjoy it. I’m currently studying individual support and empowering people, so I found it relevant to my studies. The empowerment of older people, domestic violence, mental health and child protection services are relevant issues today; the author delves into them lightly and sensitively.