Interestingly enough, I wasn’t impressed with the first book in the series but stuck with it through the second, which was better. But this third book was excellent – nuanced characters with huge growth arcs since the beginning, surprises, an unpredictable ending, and a lot of action. No one is safe and characters die as the battle lines are drawn between the Heartlanders and the Empyrean in this final in the series.
Story: Cael had fallen from the sky after Boyland prevented Gwennie from saving him. But the Maize Witch has plans for him and she can’t let him die. It is a hard time for everyone: Wanda (who gives herself up fully to the Maize Witch/blight in order to save Cael and heal his horrific injuries), Rico (who is wandering and lost now that he has lost a leg), Lane (battling an embittered boyfriend Killian and his drug addiction), Gwennie (who stays with Boyland, her obligated, after she believes Cael dead), Pop McAvoy (fighting to save a world that he believes already took his son), Ballistair (caught up in the rebellion), and Ballistair’s mother – the Maize Witch (who has plans of her own). While Lane takes over the fallen City and Cael goes on a mission to find a secret weapon for the Maize Witch, the Heartlanders will meet up and begin the fight to destroy the corn and take the Heartland back.
What I found most interesting was the subtle and nuanced cast. Wanda’s huge character change through the story as she submits more to the Blight is contrasted by Gwennie and Cael’s fatalism after the huge turn of events in the last book. Lane loses more and more of himself with Killian’s downfall. Each character changed and was affected by everything happening around them – they all grew in some way, some for the better and some for the worse.
There were several plot twists but this was non-stop action as the Empyreans unleash a secret weapon (in the form of a martial soldier and her highly trained elite soldier orphan girls) that ends up backfiring on them. Similarly, the Heartlanders’ weapon (that the Blight Witch compels Cael to find) was quite original and tied neatly and poetically into the storyline. Both weapons, Empyrean and Heartlander, take a heavy toll on their group as well as the enemy. There was some smart writing here throughout.
The book has an epilogue – some fifteen years later – which I appreciated. There may not always be happy endings but it was a pleasure to have closure on the story. Especially one as wild and climactic as this one ended up being near the end.
In all, I was riveted and greatly enjoyed The Harvest. I’m really glad I stuck with the story after the first book. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.