Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 16th April 2015
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy
Seed loves you. Seed will never let you go.
Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. when some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it’s too late.
A chilling and heartbreaking coming-of-age story of life within a cult, Seed will take its reader on a journey of gripping self-discovery reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale.
I went into Lisa Heathfield’s debut knowing nothing about it other than that my friends had given it glowing reviews. Trusting them is always a good move.
Seed starts with a bang. The opening is unsettling and striking and sets the tone of the whole novel. I had only meant to read a chapter or two to get a feel for it to read on the plane, but I couldn’t put it down. I ended up devouring 70% of it in one go and finished it within the first 45 minutes of my flight! I was immediately drawn into the sultry, cloistering summer heat of Seed and I didn’t want to leave.
Seed is an unnerving place. As in the blurb, I immediately likened it to The Handmaid’s Tale (which I’ve only read the first half of). It felt like the girls were being groomed and bred as well as conditioned to believe in an alternate set of world rules and kept for the pleasure of Papa S, Kindred Smith and Kindred John. It’s an unnerving, disturbing set-up and yet Pearl’s naïve view of her world is strangely appealing. She believed in the simplicity of life at Seed, the goodness of their work and Papa S without doubt. And Ellis arrives with him mum and younger sister.
The new arrivals from Outside certainly shake things up at Seed. When Ellis starts to question Pearl’s most basic pieces of knowledge about Seed and the world outside of it, all of her beliefs are shaken. Though the things Ellis was trying to teach her are obvious to me, it was fascinating to think about how you would see the world if you had been closed off from it; you’d have no other choice than to believe what you had been told. It’s a scary thought. It was impressive how Pearl managed to hang on to her innocence and naivety for so long, even as she started to believe Ellis’s claims and have doubts herself. He brought up new, strange feelings in Pearl, ones prohibited by Papa S; I really enjoyed watching them develop and be fought against. But I won’t say anymore because not a single part of this novel should be ruined!
An addictive, compelling and thought-provoking read, Seed is a fantastic debut; Lisa Heathfield is one to watch.
Thanks to NetGalley and Electric Monkey for the review copy.