It is no surprise that as the editor of Bloody Bookish, I like my fiction dark, gritty, scary and with a bit of an edge.
Although this was my first real foray into the YA genre, the post-apocalyptic setting of The Scourge by A.G. Henley offers the darkness I was looking for with a little romance and a lot of suspense thrown in for good measure.
The Scourge follows Fennel, a teenaged Groundling whose people live in a reluctant relationship with the tree-dwelling Lofties in a world after the Fall of Civilization.
Fen’s sightlessness makes her revered by her kind for her ability to travel unaffected through their world, which is threatened by The Scourge, infected humans who are now foul-smelling creatures known to drive people mad after only minutes of exposure.
Fen is made a Water Bearer for her ability to go out unaffected among them and gather sustenance from the watering hole to keep the Groundlings and Lofties healthy until The Scourge retreat.
But this time, The Scourge do not retreat. Their stalking goes on too long, causing the already strained relationship between the two groups to fracture even further as they struggle to survive. It is up to the courageous Fen to go in search for a new drinking source with her Loftie watcher, Peree.
Shrill birdcalls rip through the air – Lofty warning calls. The music dies, and for a moment the clearing is quiet. Then the screaming starts.
The Scourge is here.
I listen for the cries of the creatures, my hand still stuck out in front of me. I need to move, to get to the caves with everyone else. I map out the best way to get there in my head. Run along the edge of the clearing–avoid being trampled or knocked in the fire. I break for it and someone grabs my hand. Peree.
The Scourge is more than a simple what-happens-at-the-end-of-the-world story, though. With a potential romance brewing between Fen and Peree (which is forbidden, given their different social classes), shifting power between their two factions, and the tension that comes as the Scourge refuse to leave, A.G. Henley writes an adventurous tale with many excellent twists and turns that find Fen and Peree literally traveling through the darkness of the caves and into the light of the world they are truly living in.
Fen’s sightlessness provides a unique point of view, which allows readers to experience not only the many facets of their world, but to see the growth of the character when Fen must face long-held secrets and harsh truths about herself and those she has known all her life. It is the story of love and family, and how both can come from unexpected places.
I really enjoyed Fen and her experiences from start to finish. The final chapters really amp up the tension when many truths are revealed, and my only complaint would be that after that, the book ends a little abruptly. Luckily though, it leaves an open door for the sequel book, which is said to be released in March or April of 2013.
If you are looking for a thrilling adventure with budding romance and the struggle to make a life in a dystopian future, The Scourge is a great read.
The Scourge Giveaway!
As part of The Scourge blog tour at Kismet Book Touring, there are 30 eCopies of The Scourge up for grabs!
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About The Scourge
Seventeen-year-old Groundling, Fennel, is Sightless. She’s never been able to see her lush forest home, but she knows its secrets. She knows how the shadows shift when she passes under a canopy of trees. She knows how to hide in the cool, damp caves when the Scourge comes. She knows how devious and arrogant the Groundlings’ tree-dwelling neighbors, the Lofties, can be.
And she’s always known this day would come—the day she faces the Scourge alone.
The Sightless, like Fenn, are mysteriously protected from the Scourge, the gruesome creatures roaming the forests, reeking of festering flesh and consuming anything—and anyone—living. A Sightless Groundling must brave the Scourge and bring fresh water to the people of the forest. Today, that task becomes Fenn’s.
Fenn will have a Lofty Keeper, Peree, as her companion. Everyone knows the Lofties wouldn’t hesitate to shoot an arrow through the back of an unsuspecting Groundling like Fenn, but Peree seems different. A boy with warm, rough hands who smells like summer, he is surprisingly kind and thoughtful. Although Fenn knows his people are treacherous, she finds herself wanting to trust him.
As their forest community teeters on the brink of war, Fenn and Peree must learn to work together to survive the Scourge and ensure their people’s survival. But when Fenn uncovers a secret that shatters her truths, she’s forced to decide who and what to protect—her people, her growing love for Peree, or the elusive dream of lasting peace in the forest.
About A.G. Henley
A.G. Henley is the author of the young adult novel, THE SCOURGE. She is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they’ve had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she’s not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she’s inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Learn more at http://www.aghenley.com