The Scourge (Brilliant Darkness 1) by A.G. Henley
Published by A.G. Henley
4 out of 5 stars
Format: egalley (out now on kindle/ebook)
I’ve been busy, so apologies to the author and publisher for the delay in this review. I’ve started my masters, I’ve been working hard doing extra hours at work and in general have no spare time, AND every book I read left me feeling ‘meh’, hence the lack of reviews on my site recently, they are all waiting to be written but I just can’t think of anything, good or bad to say about them. Then came indie, self published, book ‘ The Scourge’, and I found myself WANTING to sit down and read it, and to find out whats happening next, in fact I read it over the course of a lazy sunday, forgoing the X factor to finish the adventure (Don’t worry, I recorded it!).
The Scourge is set in a dystopian future (The US I presume, it doesn’t really say, but mentions pumas). The population has split into Groundlings and Lofties (those that live on the ground and the trees), their survival is interlinked but neither likes, nor trusts each other. Fennel (yes, like the plant, odd names abundant here) is sightless (blind) and is due to become the villages water bearer, taking over from her foster mother, Aloe. The sightless are chosen for this task as they are the only one immune to the ‘scourge’ (aka. Zombies), the lofties provide a keeper for the water bearer, to ensure safe travel and together they are key to the survival of the village. But when tensions between the two groups become unbearable, and the village are on the verge of a war, Fennel is sent in search of a mystical water source, alone. What Fennel discovers changes everything, but what can one, blind, girl do to stop a war?
If you think this is a zombie novel ala ‘Ashes’ your wrong, its a novel about judgement, prejudice, dishonesty, trust, friendship and love, and yes, zombies. Except not. I can’t really explain the zombies without giving away the whole point of the story, so just listen when I say its not about zombies, they are a side-issue to the plot.
I loved the book, obviously. There were obvious twists, and some I just didn’t see coming, action galore but some perfect quite moments. The realistic heartfelt relationships between Fennel and her family, friends and keeper were the heart of the novel, the setting could change and it would be a brilliant novel still.
Fennel is a bit wet to start with, but I warmed up to her during the novel, she seemed to develop naturally, no sudden burst of greatness here – just your usual teenage girl growing up as she discovers the world is not what she thought. Don’t expect Katniss or Tris here, Fen is her own girl and rightly so! Her blindness doesn’t make her a superhero, but nor does it make her a victim, she has learnt to accept it, in the way only someone thats been blind for life can, and during the book she has to learn when to ask for help, and when she can do it herself. The supporting cast were well written, but barring Peregrin (see told you, fun names), the depth of some of the characters is lacking, so much more could be done with Aloe, Adder and Shrike – I didn’t feel love, hate or anything for them. Equally the village tensions are quite sudden for the reader, a bit of back ground of why they are set up like that would be good at the beginning (we find out more as we go along), the book wasn’t very long so there was plenty of space for more background and depth to the world and the cast. We don’t need an explanation as to how the world fell, but a history of the village and inter-relations would be better – were they always at war? did distrust grow in time?
Over all a great, fun book and I can’t wait to read book 2 (its on the kindle waiting), a true indie gem and I feel privileged to have read it before the hype started, because hype will start and it WILL become a best seller, I’m sure of it.
**ARC/egalley provided by author and publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.