Structured around the beauty of bird sightings and bird-watching, Out of a Clear Sky is a crafted debut that is intrinsically layered with themes and characters. Skilful, clever, well researched and with inspired prose, this stimulating debut transported me into specific locations with seeming ease.
After Manda Brooks' long term relationship ends she hopes to continue her list, collecting and cataloguing bird sightings. The bird sightings provide stability, continuity and some form of consolation, as her friends and her ex fade from her life. Set in the midst of a community of bird-watchers, the events and locations drive the characters through early morning mists, coastlines, into campsites and into hides. Each sense of place and each bird sighting is intensely induced.
As Manda journeys and searches for sightings, she is pushed to her limit as she becomes the prey of another birder. The obsessive natures of individuals are then considered, linking Manda and birds through subtle simile. As she flees and as her life is methodically taken to pieces (again on a number of layers), Manda begins to re-examine, to revisit her upbringing and, in doing so, reaches conclusions regarding her personal connections.
Out of a Clear Sky is an exploration of interaction, human nature, love, loss, obsession, truth, betrayal and much more. The delicate weaving through layers, the seamless joins, are all controlled with a delicate hand. Attention to detail and discriminating observation combine making this, above all else, an enthralling read.
This psychological thriller is both an original and an impressive debut