Title: What We Harvest
Author: Ann Fraistat
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Published: March 22nd, 2022 (Delacorte Press)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hollow’s End was once known for its miracle crops that drew tourists to the small town from far and wide. But when the blight, a quicksilver, mercury like substance appeared, it first poisoned and destroyed the farms, then the animals, and finally the people, who it turned into zombie-like creatures. Among the last locals still surviving, Wren knows time is running short when she finds that the blight has at last, made its way onto her family’s prized, multi-colored and shimmering wheat farm. When her parents fail to return to their home one evening before curfew, the only person she can turn to is her ex, Derek, and though they haven’t been on speaking terms in months, together, they set out to seek a cure that could save Hollow’s End. But the town has many secrets buried in its past, and the miracle crops come with a cost that it is finally time to pay.
What We Harvest was a rather creepy read that I was surprised to find myself enjoying, and a very well written one too. The scare factor wasn’t particularly bad in my opinion, which is saying a lot considering it includes some pretty vivid imagery. The plot was amazing – between the mystery of where the blight came from, and the continually mounting tension with the time remaining to find a cure running out fast, it was the type of book I just couldn’t put down because I was so intrigued to know what would happen next. It initially seemed like a zombie story, but as the story went on, it became something quite different, between alchemy and a dark history history behind the town’s founders that the families have long kept secret. This was engaging and easy to read, and I especially liked that this was a standalone novel that wrapped up things neatly by the end.
Wren was a strong protagonist despite her making some incredibly stupid decisions. She was a determined and relatable character and it made it easy to root for her. Zombie fiction isn’t really new, but what made this one unique was seeing it through Wren’s eyes, as she herself is infected and fights throughout the book to hold on to her humanity. There was a romance subplot between Wren and Derek, but it was very much sidelined as the main plot of Wren’s quest to find a cure for the blight clearly took center stage.
The ending was a bit more fantastical than I expected, considering that the rest of the book was generally darker themed, but apart from a change in the mood, it didn’t detract too much from the story apart from wrapping up things a little too fast. Despite this not being my usual genre, I really liked this book and it would certainly be a great choice for an October TBR! If this genre appeals to you, I would highly recommend What We Harvest!
What We Harvest releases on March 22nd, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!