*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: April 16th 2015
Summary (From Goodreads):
Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it’s too late.
This is a simply stunning debut novel from Lisa Heathfield and I am itching to read the sequel.
I’ve not read a novel about a cult community like this one, but I have watched some films on the subject and read a lot around real life situations (Jonestown was the most recent one I looked up and it was very sad/scary to see how someone can control people like that).
If I were to start off with a criticism, it would probably be that the format for Seed is a little predictable. You know from the beginning that the perfect community they live in is going to slowly unwind, that Papa S is not going to be the merciful and blessed leader he pretends to be, and that someone from outside their community will convince the protagonist that not all is as it seems.
That may be a formula for novels like this (according to others, anyway) but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this at all. I raced through it: the prose is beautiful, full of little phrases and comments that really show Pearl’s sheltered life and how she relates everything to Nature.
I really connected with the characters. Pearl is great and I like that she didn’t sell out her lifestyle straight away: even when evidence is being presented to her, she only starts to doubt gradually, which felt natural as it would take a lot to really convince someone that everything they believe is a lie. I really felt everything she felt: her love for Papa S and Elizabeth, her confusion over Ellis and her complete belief in Nature and Seed.
The book could be quite disturbing in places, but it’s all very subtle and hinted at, rather than being explicit. The idea of Papa S’ Companion creeped me out, especially when it looked like Pearl might be next. The relationship between Kate and Kindred John also made me feel uncomfortable. Everything was enough to give me an idea of what was going on and make me doubt the perfection of Seed, but without making anything too awkward or upsetting.
The pace was fairly slow, which worked perfectly. It gave time to build the world and characters and meant that when the action started, it hit hard and fast and left you reeling.
This is a beautiful first novel and Heathfield’s prose weaves a truly magical and convincing world. The sequel in 2016 cannot come fast enough.
Check out my soundtrack for Seed here