Happy #WorldBookDay everybody!
So, I bought Blood Harvest as part of my February book haul, through Amazon which had it as part of their 3 paperbacks for £10 deal. So, the price was awesome. Just sayin’. Anyway, I’ve read Sharon Bolton before – actually, I did a presentation breaking down her novel Now You See Me during the first semester of my MA – and I enjoyed her writing so I decided to grab something else. Plus, the cover is creepy as hell and I loved it.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Publisher: Corgi (28 April 2011)
Sometimes I wish that she’d just leave me in peace . . .
Psychologist Evi is worried about one of her patients – a woman who is convinced her little girl is still alive. Two years after the fire that burnt their house down.
Meanwhile, the new vicar in town is feeling strangely unwelcome. Disturbing events seem designed to scare him away.
And a young boy keeps seeing a strange, solitary girl playing in the churchyard. Who is she and what is she trying to tell him?
Blood Harvest is a spooky, haunting read that has a vaguely supernatural feel rooted in a very real threat. It’s a slow-burn sort of novel, which I’m definitely a fan of, with some great characters and a deliciously dark plot.
What I liked:
You guys should know by now I’m always going to talk about character. The fun thing about this novel is that when I first started reading, I didn’t like Evi very much. She’s pretty abrasive and fairly opaque at first, and I took a little while to warm to her.
She’s got a very distinctive voice, though, and very much like a real person I liked her more the longer I spent in her company. Evi is the psychiatrist whose own disability does not hold her back; she is determined, sometimes angry, always dogged, and resolutely moral. Basically, she’s kickass. And I love kickass women.
2. Evi & Harry
While I didn’t much care either way about Harry as a narrator (this is probably personal preference because I really do tend to prefer my female protagonists), I absolutely loved the Evi/Harry dynamic. Something Sharon Bolton does very well is getting me to completely shipshipship (aka support) her character-relationships, and I wanted Evi and Harry to get together and be happy and all of that fuzzy stuff.
And it didn’t get in the way of the plot, which is somewhere other authors have fallen down before. The trials and complexities of Evi’s relationship with Harry fed into the plot rather than slowing it down, helping to increase this tension and feeling of fear growing throughout the novel.
3. The narrators in general
It was, quite simply, nice to read a crime book where the narrators weren’t detectives. Always a breath of fresh air. And the child narrator, Tom, was a nice addition to the bunch.
4. The plot
Although the plot itself seems to take quite a while to get going, the last third of the novel completely makes up for any misgivings I may have had in the beginning. The climax of the novel is great and, while I won’t give you any spoilers, I feel like the events all come together really nicely. An author who can successfully knit together so many different clues and elements (as Bolton has done here) is always going to get a good review in my book. I always like reading a novel where I can feel the climax coming and can’t put the book down until it’s over. Blood Harvest was one of those books.
What I didn’t like so much:
1. The ending
Well, actually, the epilogue. As a general rule I quite like epilogues – especially epilogues that leave you feeling shaken or as though not everything is completely wrapped up. And since I’ve already spoken about Evi & Harry, I’ll mention that for me the epilogue was a bit unsatisfying, leaving their relationship as it did, and you’ll probably understand what I mean.
However, I will say that I don’t think the novel could work any other way, and a little bird has told me that I may not have to worry too much on the Evi/Harry front because they appear in another of Bolton’s novels. So, don’t be too disheartened my fellow bookbugs. ❤
2. The pace
One of the things I loved so much about Now You See Me was its rip-roaring relentlessness and speed. I read it in two sittings, completely sucked into the narrative from start to finish. Probably this had something to do with the short length of most of the chapters, which usually makes me want to read faster. Blood Harvest on the other hand is slower – and while I do love slow-burn novels, I thought perhaps it was actually too slow. Just a bit. And like I said, the climax more than made up for it, but I did find myself flagging a little around about a third of the way through, wondering when we were going to get into the really good stuff. Not a complete game-changer, but at 535 pages (not including the excerpt from NYSM at the back), Blood Harvest is a fairly long crime book, so it’s worth bearing in mind.
I’d definitely recommend this book to my friends, largely because of Evi and the awesome climax where everything comes together. At the end of the novel I felt like I was leaving friends, which for me is always a good sign. I’ll definitely still be reading more Sharon Bolton.
Has anybody else read any Sharon Bolton they’d recommend?