Published by Tor Teen on January 10th 2017
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
“I plead the blood.”
Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely Cattle Ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.
Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society—a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship—won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who’s behaving like they’re old friends.
Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals—but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.
Here’s two things you probably need to know about Kim Liggett: 1) She writes about really creepy shit going down in large, ominous crop settings; and 2) She does a damn good job of it.
Instead of trying to “review” a book with a ton of potential to spoil stuff, I am going to ask myself questions about it and then answer them for you! See, horror and I don’t always mix. I want to like them, but I feel like there is a fine line, probably more so than in any other genre, that can make a book go from creepy to eye-rolling in no time. So these are the things that I look for in books like this, and maybe you do too!
Did I Connect to the Characters?
This is a biggie for me with horror. Sometimes I end up not liking a book just because I do not care about the characters so… if they all die in some kind of awful haze of doom… meh? But in this case, I did care about the characters. Clay is a good, stand up kind of guy. He cares deeply about his family, and that is admirable. After his dad died, he stepped up to the plate, and has been looking out for his little sisters as his mom slowly descends into Mrs. Everdeen-style uselessness. And his sisters! I loved them. Noodle, oh my goodness, Noodle was my favorite, I just wanted to gobble her up. She was so wise beyond her years, and the bond she had with Clay was so sweet. And even Jess, while she wasn’t exactly likable, you couldn’t help but feel for her after all she’d been through.
There is romance, too. I didn’t love the romance, but I loved that Clay was so in love with the idea of it? Not that I disliked Ali, I just didn’t necessarily know her well enough, perhaps. I also loved the little bits of humor infused into the book. Clay just was so down to earth, and his inner dialogue was a wonderful blend of fear and apprehension, and normal teenage guy trying to make it through the day.
Was the atmosphere on point?
Holy yes. Like I said, Kim Liggett can write a creepy scene in the crops like nobody‘s business. The whole time I was reading, I felt this sense of… unease. The setting was vivid, eerily so at times, and I could absolutely picture what was happening throughout. This was true even in the non-scary sort of scenes- the football games, the Oklahoma farm setting, it just all seemed to pop off the page. And when things got unsettling, I felt that too.
Was I kept guessing?
For the most part, yes. I will say that there were a few times where I knew what was going to happen. Even a few moments at the end. Not that I knew from the start or anything, but I had figured a few things out along the way. Not all, though! There were definitely surprises to be had. Some big surprises.
Was it too unbelievable?
No! Well, mostly no! There were one or two times (I will say, toward the end) where I was… not so sure. That is probably my one qualm with the book- those few bits that had me saying “yeah, don’t buy it”. BUT. As a whole, it was definitely in the realm of believably scary! I mean… not scary, because I rarely, if ever, get scared by books, but… you know what I mean. There is a religious component to the book, too, which I found fascinating, even though I don’t always connect with religious themes in books- this one was quite well done. It wasn’t pushy, it was just… there. Part of the story. And it worked.
Kim Liggett is the only author who has made me flat out like horror, not once, but twice (I loved me some Blood and Salt!) . She’s earned auto-buy author status for me. If you are looking for a great story to creep you out, she’s your girl, and this is your book.