January 10, 2017
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“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.
Somehow, I wasn't aware of The Last Harvest before it arrived in the mail for review - though Kim Liggett's 2015 novel Blood and Salt was on my to-read list already. It was fun starting a book when I truly didn't know what it was about .
Author Kim Liggett really commits to the novel's concept and the premise and that is, at least, part of what makes it work really well. We don't know, at first, what exactly happened with Clay's father, or what he did, just that he's dead and Clay can feel the rest of the town's judgement. When we do learn just what he did, I was actually really glad not to have known.
The Last Harvest is creepy, confusing, gross and unsettling, but somehow all in the best way. Small-town Midland, Oklahoma and the Tate farm are a perfect setting. They have that 'nice, quaint, small-town' feel that is a great counter to the what is (or may be) taking place.
I loved Clay's character, how he's trying to look out for his sisters and mother, dealing with his father's death and running the farm. The deeper into the story we went, the more I wanted him to reach out and talk to someone else. To get an outside opinion. You realize, though, that despite his family being in Midland for six generations, despite that he's lived his whole life there, there isn't anyone he can really trust. It is sad but it adds something nice to the story.
In the aftermath of his father's death (and the actions just preceding it), with the state his mother's in, with two younger sisters to consider, and not being able to be sure he isn't going crazy, too, there aren't a lot of options for Clay. The more wrong things get, the more readers are left to question things, as well. You don't know who to trust or what's going to happen, not until it's allover and done.
a big thank you to Tor Teen for the finished copy to review