A dark fantasy coming of age tale.
The old world is dead. Worse, it was a lie.
Haskell wants to be a legend, a hero like his grandfather who broke the orcish hordes. Froba just wants to survive and stay ahead of her cruel master—a corrupt guard who makes her grift naïve adventurers. Froba knows what Haskell doesn’t: that the deck is stacked against them, and there are no heroes left in the world.
Aided by a cheerful band of misfits, Haskell must survive a monster-infested forest and the exploitative, treasure-hunting guild founded to clear it, while Froba must decide where her loyalties lie—with her carefree mark or cunning master. If fierce woodland monsters don’t devour them first.
Springtide Harvest is a captivating coming-of-age tale, a very accomplished debut, that kept me turning the pages throughout.
I was hooked from the first chapter, which introduces the main character, Haskell, who I enjoyed as a protagonist. His personal journey, in search of fame and fortune as a Guild quester, is everything you can expect from a naive young man who thinks he can take on the world. Haskell learns the hard way, that life is not that easy. At times, I just wanted to give him a shake and tell him to wise up, but that is credit to the author’s skill at writing a realistic coming of age character – he makes mistakes, he’s cocksure, gets a bit too big for his boots and suffers the consequences.
Although Haskell appears to be the main character of the piece, there is a second main character that is introduced quite early on. Froba, a young girl, who is just surviving on the streets, takes us on a separate coming-of-age story arc. These two arcs blend well together, they are distinct enough to give the reader something different from each. Personally, I enjoyed Froba’s story more. Her story has more jeopardy, inner conflict, and overall interest, that made me root for her more than anyone else.
The story begins with Haskell’s journey, and the meeting of characters along the way, which soon develops into what I thought would become an adventure quest story, through monster-infested dungeons of the forest. This is clearly a fundamental part of this fantasy world, and the build-up to this particular part of the story gave me a slightly different expectation of where I thought the plot was heading. That said, the story soon develops into a well-constructed character driven plot, with corrupt characters who are all connected to the individual and connected stories of Haskell and Froba. It was great to have an antagonist that you can truly dislike, with no redeeming qualities. We have that in the shape of Ferd, a corrupt watchman, who becomes key to the story. We also have the Guild Master, an elderly woman, who is very intriguing and fun. I enjoyed the scenes between her and our two protagonists, Haskell and Froba.
There is also a wider cast of diverse characters introduced along the way. The band that Haskell gathers around him is diverse, with some characters fleshed out more than others. I did find myself forgetting who, from the wider cast, was who at times, but this had little impact on my overall enjoyment, just something that I struggle with when there are lots of side characters.
The strongest aspect of Springtide Harvest is the writing. The author’s style has an easy flow, with detailed descriptions of the world, characters, and monsters. The author provides a very strong sense of place, with vivid descriptions that put me there in my mind’s eye – from seedy taverns to creepy underground dungeons, I felt the atmosphere of each place. Characters and creatures are also very well described – their features, mannerisms, clothing, and weapons, all add to the excellent detail of the world.
Springtide Harvest is a very strong debut, which is well-paced and builds to a satisfying conclusion, that left me wanting more. It could comfortably remain as a standalone novel, but I believe there is more than enough from this world, its characters, and ending, to justify a second book or series. There are certain plot-threads and aspects of the story, like the dungeons, that I would like to learn more about. I would definitely return to read more from this world and its characters; I feel that we have only just scratched the surface of what this story has to offer.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.
Disclaimer: I was provided with an eBook copy by the author in return for an honest review.
Note: The author has indicated that this book will be the start of an as yet unnamed series.