Genre: Horror — Young Adult
Publisher: Tor Teen (January 10, 2017)
Length: 352 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Teenagers. Wheat fields. Gruesome deaths. Devil Worship. All those ingredients mix into one terrifying brew under the masterful guidance of Kim Liggett. The Last Harvest truly a horror story from Tor Teen which will creep out even the most mature reader.
Everything changed for Clay Tate a year ago. The day when his father died a mysterious and brutal death at their neighbor’s cattle ranch. The grizzly remains of slaughter all around, a crucifix clutched to his chest, and the only words he would speak before life left him the ominous “I plead the blood.”
Before that moment, Clay had it all: star quarterback of the high school football team, friends, and a place among the prestigious “Preservation Society.” But once stories of his father’s death reached the other members of Clay’s small, rural Oklahoma community everything changed.
Now, Clay is a social pariah. Gone are the football games and the meetings of the Preservation Society. His friends have distanced themselves from him. The girl he has feelings for ignores him. And home life is no better. Clay’s mom unable to run the family farm alone, causing her son to take on his father’s responsibilities and help care for the rest of the family. All of this combining to weigh down Clay with a heavy burden, one he does his best to accept and deal with, hoping against hope that time will erase what his father’s death has brought him.
Eventually, things begin to . . . get even worse.
Strange things start to happen after the one year anniversary of his father’s death. Clay begins to hear voices. Sibilant whispering which keep repeating “I plead the blood” over and over again. Dead livestock appear in the fields — then vanish. Members of the Preservation Society start dying. A trusted school counselor even hints to Clay that the devil is coming to their small town. And our brave teenager begins to wonder if he is slowly slipping into madness like his father before him!
What can Clay do?
With evil lose in town and Clay’s fear that it threatens all he loves, the young man does the only thing he knows to do: Solve the mystery of his father’s death!
Told in first person from Clay Tate’s point-of-view, this narrative does an amazing job of keeping a reader guessing from beginning to end. Liggett effortlessly dropping clues (true and false ones) all around. One minute, she will be leading a reader straight down the path before BAM! . . . the proverbial rug is pulled out from under you, taking things in a completely unexpected direction. Helpful characters quickly become creepy. Horrifying scenes graphically appear only to be explained away as possible psychotropic delusions. All the confusion filling the narrative with never ending suspense and cover-to-cover creepiness. Exactly what every horror story hopes to accomplish, but which The Last Harvest delivers.
Like other reviewers, the only negative I have with the novel is the ending. There isn’t anything wrong with it, since it has been thoroughly set up throughout the narrative (If you have been paying close attention to the clues, that is.), yet it is certainly unexpected, startling, a little unsatisfying, and left me with the feeling that nothing was really resolved. Certainly, not everyone will feel this way about the conclusion, but I did, which is why I mention it.
The Last Harvest is a young adult horror which won’t disappoint fans of the genre, delivering enough mystery, creepiness, and gore to make most readers take a bit longer to fall asleep after they turn the light out at bedtime.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.