(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Heptonclough is an idyllic little town on the moors in Northern England. Gareth Fletcher and his American wife, Alice, are thrilled to find a beautiful house there that seems perfect for them and their three young children. Tom, Joe, and Millie have plenty of room to roam, even if their favorite playground has become the old church cemetery next door.
Expecting a warm country welcome, the Fletchers are dismayed by the chilly reception they receive from the townspeople. A series of silly pranks convince the family that someone is not only watching them, but also trying to drive them away. As the pranks become more intense, Tom seems especially disturbed. Convinced he's being haunted by a dead girl, the 10-year-old tries to convince the people around him of looming danger.
Harry Laycock, a vicar from Newcastle, is also new to Heptonclough. Charged with re-opening the church next to the Fletcher's house, which has been closed for the last ten years, he's as spooked as Tom. Something's not right in Heptonclough—he feels it, too. It can't be a coincidence that three toddler girls died in the church during its closure, can it? With little Millie scampering around the church grounds, Harry feels a distinct sense of foreboding. Is the youngest Fletcher in danger? Or is Harry's imagination working overtime, just like Tom's?
When Joe and Millie go missing in turn, it's up to the newcomers to figure out what's really going on in a small town with big secrets.
I've mentioned that I'm a big Sharon/S.J. Bolton fan, yeah? At least a time or two (or three or ten ...), I'm sure. This is because the author always delivers a taut, twisty story that hooks me right from the start and keeps me riveted until the very end. Always. Hence, my book-binging, blog-burbling, Bolton-bent fangirling. She's good, y'all. Her books are not for the feint of heart (or stomach), but if you're down for a gritty, gripping thriller, she's your girl.
Before writing the Lacey Flint series, Bolton penned several standalone thrillers. Blood Harvest is the third (after Sacrifice in 2008 and Awakening in 2009). It's a creepy gothic thriller with an atmospheric setting, intriguing characters, and the surprising twist and turns that are Bolton's particular forte. Both utterly compelling and deeply disturbing, Blood Harvest is another addicting page turner that I just could not put down. It's not my favorite of Bolton's standalones (that would be Little Black Lies), but it's just as compelling as all her other books. I should know because I've read—no, devoured—them all.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of other Bolton thrillers, especially Awakening)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (a dozen or so F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, sexual innuendo, and disturbing subject matter
To the FTC, with love: Another library