The Scourge #1
Paranormal Young Adult/Dystopian-ish
Received courtesy of Kismet Book Touring for review
THE STORY (From Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She's never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings' tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be.
And she's always known this day would come—the day she faces the Scourge alone.
The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything—and anyone—living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn's.
Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him.
As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people’s survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she’s forced to decide who and what to protect—her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest.
A book without much hype to prepare us in terms of expectations, The Scourge surprises us as we turn the first page of what is essentially a blank canvas, our opinion completely uncolored by outside influence and our minds wide open as we wonder just what's in store for us. What we find waiting is a hugely engaging story with a fascinating world and well-developed characters, the type who are an extraordinary balance of strength and vulnerability, fighting conflicts both internal and external and encouraging us to pick up their war cry and battle right beside them. Before we even realize it, the hands of the nearest clock are suddenly in a drastically different place than when last we checked them, and we can only shake our heads in delighted shock at how quickly time has passed since everything The Scourge has to offer utterly consumed us.
Fennel is an exceptional young woman, completely sightless in a dangerous world, but yet she, of all the people in their village, is the most equipped for survival. It seems the Scourge–zombie-like creatures who roam the woods around her home and are known to brutally attack and devour whatever’s in their path–don’t harm those who can’t see them, allowing Fennel to venture out for water while the rest of her village retreats to the safety of caves until the Scourge leaves the area once again. Her fear when she’s faced with the putrid smell and terrifying moans escaping the rotting corpses who shuffle along beside her as she gets water is palpable, but she never lets it overwhelm her, finding strength with the assistance of Peree to single-handedly ensure the survival of everyone in the village.
The romance between Fennel and Peree is beautifully executed, the inherent distrust between Fennel’s people, the Groundlings, and Peree’s people, the Lofties, something that takes a while for our two young protagonists to wade through, and we as readers are beyond grateful for the slow progression. Each small step forward in their relationship is a subtle change we’re given time to fully absorb and appreciate, their forced partnership slowly evolving into desired companionship, tentative attraction, and then finally admitted affection, a step that sets the butterflies in our bellies to fluttering at an unprecedented speed.
The only minor complaint with this story is a lack of clarity at times in terms of the world building. We’re not given much information as to how this post-apocalyptic world came to be, or how the Scourge themselves became sick initially, but luckily for us, the journey Peree and Fennel embark on so thoroughly captivates and entertains us with what we do know that it’s difficult to fixate on what we don’t. This first installment concludes nicely, leaving us at a logical stopping place even though all of our questions are far from answered, and we put it down infinitely satisfied despite some of our lingering curiosities with regard to world and its parameters.
A huge thank you to Kismet Book Touring and A.G. Henley for offering up the absolutely fantastic giveaway going on throughout this tour! To enter, please just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck everyone!
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