For fans of Wilder Girls comes a nightmarish debut guaranteed to keep you up through the night, about an idyllic small town poisoned by its past, and one girl who must fight the strange disease that’s slowly claiming everyone she loves.
Wren owes everything she has to her home, Hollow’s End, a centuries-old, picture perfect American town. Tourists travel miles to marvel at its miracle crops, including the shimmering, iridescent wheat of Wren’s family farm. Until five months ago.
That’s when the quicksilver mercury blight first surfaced, poisoning the farms of Hollow’s End one by one. It began by consuming the crops–thick, silver sludge bleeding from the earth. Next were the animals. Infected livestock and wild creatures alike staggered off into the woods by day—only to return at night, their eyes, fogged white, leering from the trees.
Then, the blight came for the neighbors.
Wren is among the last locals standing. And the blight has finally come for her, too. Now, the only one she can turn to is the last person she wants to call: her ex, Derek. They haven’t spoken in months, but Wren and Derek still have one thing in common—Hollow’s End means everything to them. Only there’s much they don’t know about their hometown and its renowned miracle crops. And they’re about to discover that miracles aren’t free.
Their ancestors have an awful lot to pay for, and Wren and Derek are the only ones left to settle old debts.
I’ll start this review by saying this is an incredible debut, and I’ll follow this author anywhere she wants to take me in her next book.
Hollow’s End is a small town that draws hoards of tourists for its wildly successful, centuries-old farms. Without these farms, the town would die. And that’s exactly what happens when a quicksilver mercury blight poisons the crops, then the livestock, and moves on to the townsfolk. If you’re thinking zombies, you’re not exactly wrong. The animals and people crave flesh, but disappear into the forest at night – which is lucky for the noninfected folks. Wren and Derek are members of two of the four founding families and are frantically trying to save their loved ones, farms, and town. Time is of the essence since Wren is now infected and showing symptoms.
I loved the pacing of this story. There’s no slow unfolding of details – the reader is immediately thrown into the action and feels Wren’s desperation. I initially didn’t like her much. She makes some selfish demands of others and plenty of mistakes, but to her credit she owns it later on. The buildup oozes tension. She and Derek start to make headway in finding a solution only to be slapped down by one obstacle after another. Death is only inches away in several scenes. Stakes are tremendous, and they discover dark secrets abound in these founding families.
What We Harvest is a fantastic blend of horror, thriller, and dark fantasy with a little alchemy to give it some added flavor. I devoured (in a non-zombie-like way) this book in less than twenty-four hours. This is an author to watch, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.