Bolton, S.J. Blood Harvest.
This is the second novel I've read by Bolton. Like Sacrifice, Blood Harvest involves ancient beliefs and practices and malevolent old men. While the victims in Sacrifice are pregnant women, in this novel the mystery involves the disappearance of little girls, toddlers, over a period of years.
When the Fletcher family moves to Heptonclough, they certainly feel like outsiders. The community is tight knit and slow to accept newcomers.
A gang of boys attempt to bully Tom and Joe (ten and six) at school and at home. When Tom and Joe play in the graveyard behind their home, Tom feels that someone is watching and that the watcher and the bullies are not the same. When he tells his parents about the strange girl in the shadows, they feel that he letting his imagination run away with him.
Harry Laycock, the new vicar, befriends the boys and the Fletcher family, but he, too, has feelings of being observed in his own church when no one else is present.
Psychiatrist Evi Oliver is treating Gillian Royale, a patient whose young daughter died in a fire 3 years previously. Gillian refuses to believe that her daughter is dead and wanders the moors looking for her. Just as a romance seems to be budding between Evi and the vicar, Gillian develops a crush on Harry.
Then Millie is threatened; Tom suspects the strange girl in the garden and begins keeping a close eye on his little sister. The tension grows as the strange rituals of the village come to a head near Halloween.
I found myself less entranced during this novel than when reading Bolton's Sacrifice. A few possible reasons: it was my first time using my Kindle, and I was adjusting to not having a book in my hands; I had so recently read Sacrifice that the similarity in themes was more apparent; and I was reading on the plane and on vacation and there were many interruptions.
The conclusion felt rushed and some of the eery Gothic elements seemed forced and exaggerated (i.e. the actual "blood harvest") to the point that I questioned anyone engaging in or ignoring such practices. Yet, as I mentioned, there are several reasons I may have been more critical and less able to engage fully with this book.
Fiction. Mystery/Supernatural. 2010. Kindle. print version - 432 pages.