About the book:
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.
Review by Katy Haye:
This post-apocalyptic romance was a pleasure to read. It used familiar tropes but gave them skilful twists. Tension between groundlings and lofties provided drama throughout, and the scourge were a grotesque threat hanging over both peoples. It was intriguing to ‘see’ them only through sightless Fenn’s experience – her fear at being forced into proximity with the creatures was tangible.
I love, love, loved the romance between Fenn and Peree. There was a strong progression from initial, curious attraction which then built up to heartfelt care and genuine affection.
The world-building was good – what felt like a pre-industrial world (bow and arrow technology, village-sized settlements) ended up being post-post-post industrial – years in the future after a biological apocalypse created the Scourge of the title and destroyed human civilization.
There were lovely twists – on both a world and a character level. All of them were unexpected and excellent. The ending was entirely satisfying, but there’s lots of scope for more if the author wants to give us more from this world. I hope there’ll be more!
AG Henley is participating in the Shattered Worlds Facebook read-along. She’ll be giving insights and answering questions on The Scourge 23-25 September. Do join her and have your say!