I had another young adult science fiction, alternate reality fantasy novel reading copy on my computer that I had been meaning to get to for a couple months that I finally found my way to recently and started “The scourge” by A. G. Henley hoping to find another fresh look at a future that could lie into the not too distant future. I started the novel, which is the first in a series, hoping to find it to be as fresh and entertaining as my last foray into the genre.
Fennel was the water bearer for the Groundlings. While the people lived most of their lives in a primitive world that was primarily a primeval forest, they were visited by the scourge periodically and had to hide inside of their caves while the creatures of the scourge were in the area. Fennel had the job of venturing outside of the caves to fetch water for the people to drink even though she was risking her life every time.
Fenn has an angel of sorts watching over her. Peree is a member of the Lofty people who live exclusively in the trees and provide a keeper for the water bearer to help keep her safe in exchange for water to allow them to survive. Peree is Fenn’s keeper but has become intrigued with the young girl and looking for more than just this businesslike arrangement.
When Fenn is sent to look for a mythical source of water that lies somewhere on the other side of the caves, Peree follows her into the caves without her knowledge until it is too late for him to turn back. What the two teens find at the end of their journey is more than just a source of water, though, but a secret that could change their world forever if only they can get everyone to accept it for what it is.
“The scourge” is a tale of the world after the downfall of civilization has returned it to a more primal state. Gone are the towns and technology of modern society. Instead, the people live in small bands that are sufficient unto themselves and continue in their own ways as taught from their parents. Even though the Groundlings and Lofties live side by side, there is little interaction between the two groups. They keep separate from each other by the simple fact that one lives on the ground while the other lives in the trees.
“The scourge” transports the reader to a future world that has returned to a simpler time but still has evil lurking around every corner. The book put me in much of the same state of mind as some classic science fiction works like Orson Scott Card’s “Alvin Maker” series in which the heroes must figure out the illusion that dominates their world in order to uncover the truth that lies beneath. The novel is a young adult work so the prose flows smoothly and easily but there are much deeper issues lying beneath the surface of the story that are captivating and will hold the interest of readers of any age. The veneer of simplicity is just a cover for a more complex world that the author is sure to explore in future volumes. While I was a little unsure of the book when I started, I was quickly transported into the world of the scourge and plummeted breathlessly toward the resolution. This is a very good book and a good look at just what science fiction can achieve when in the hands of a capable writer.
I would like to give a special thank you to NetGalley and Amazon for this reading copy. “The scourge” is available now from Amazon Digital.