(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.
At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S.’s companion. She feels excitement . . . and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community—particularly the teenage son, Ellis—only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant. Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask.
But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.
Lisa Heathfield’s suspenseful, scintillating debut features a compelling voice that combines blithe naïveté, keen observation, and sincere emotion.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received an ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
If you know anything at all about cults, or have even read any first-hand survivor accounts of former cult members, Seed will hold absolutely no surprises for you. I wish it had been a more unique and less predictable take on how cults keep and manipulate their members, but Lisa Heathfield really doesn’t stray from the typical cult modus operandi. That’s not a bad thing because it makes it realistic, but for me it was so predictable that it got a little boring at points. It won’t be true for everyone, but for anyone with the aforementioned knowledge of cults you aren’t going to encounter any surprises.
That said, Lisa Heathfield does paint a very realistic picture of what someone raised in a cult would be like. Pearl constantly wants to please Papa S., wants to be his Companion without realizing what that fully implies (and yes, it means exactly what you’re thinking) and laughs off Ellis when he tells her of the wondrous things in the outside world. She’s been kept naive about absolutely everything and while she questions some things, she doesn’t question them like you or I would. It’s more realistic than if she were questioning everything and you’d think it would become annoying, but it doesn’t. Lisa Heathfield writes very good characters and while sometimes I was exasperated with Pearl, her character still rings true.
As I said, the plot is predictable for people who know a little about cults, but somehow that adds to the overall suspense toward the end. I knew how things were going to end and I knew how they were going to get there, but I was still anxious to find out what happened. Heathfield’s pacing was a little slow in the middle (thus my occasional boredom) but despite that she really ratcheted up the suspense toward the end. Particularly in the barn scene.
I would have liked for a little more even pacing throughout the novel so that it didn’t drag so much in the middle, but this is her debut novel so you can’t really expect everything to be perfect. Her character development was still amazing and in the end I do have to say that I enjoyed Seed. Will it ever be on the list of my top 10 favourite novels? No, not really. But it is quite a good book and a decent debut so I think we can expect great things from her in the future. Heathfield has a good grasp of psychology and with a little practice, she can write some truly terrifying novels in the future. I for one can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.
I give this book 4/5 stars.