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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Romance
This is Joanne Harris's first novel and is vastly different from the books she is well known for. It's a romantic novel, not slushy hearts and flowers, but a gothic romance filled with vampires and horrific scenes of blood and lust. It's sexy, violent and gruesome, and her writing makes your heart pound with fear. This book is a page-turner and I can't recommend it highly...
Published on 30 Dec 2007 by kehs

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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Something inside me remembers and will not forget".
Joanne Harris is perhaps better known for her novel, CHOCOLAT, than for this title, which is her debut. As explained in her author's note to THE EVIL SEED, it was largely due to pressure from her fans which saw to the book being reissued. Her brief discussion of the book is in itself quite interesting - to hear what an established author thinks about their first attempt...
Published on 24 Oct 2008 by Brida


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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 86% cocoa, 18 May 2005
By 
A. Wasenczuk "speedbird2" (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Evil Seed (Hardcover)
The jacket sells this book as pulp romance. It'll make sense once you've read it, but don't be fooled - this is as dark as chocolate cake.
Harris writes with the air of one who has glimpsed the abyss, and in her world the forces of light and dark move quite freely and believably. The mood and the Fenland setting will be familiar to fans of Lesley Glaister. The book shines with intensity enough to excuse any moments of pretension; the pace towards the end is marvellous. This feels like the root-stock from which run the tendrils of the supernatural in her later work such as 'Chocolat'. Or perhaps this book is the incomplete exorcism of those horrors. Cracking stuff - I was hooked.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read, 21 Sep 2008
This review is from: The Evil Seed (Paperback)
I love JH's style of writing and I certainly wasn't disappointed here! She manages to hold the threads of the story together well, though I'm not convinced that the ending worked so well. Not sure how else she could have ended it though! Highly recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Romance, 27 Mar 2007
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kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Evil Seed (Paperback)
This is Joanne Harris's first novel and is vastly different from the books she is well known for. It's a romantic novel, not slushy hearts and flowers, but a gothic romance filled with vampires and horrific scenes of blood and lust. It's sexy, violent and gruesome, and her writing makes your heart pound with fear. This book is a page-turner and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's a great shame that Evil Seed has long been out of print, if you ever come across a copy make sure you snap it up.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars re-Raphaelite, 11 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Evil Seed (Hardcover)
At several points, early on in 'Evil Seed', it seems as though Harris has written a typical 'student' novel, which does make your heart shrink with horror. Alice has a telephone conversation with her ex-boyfriend, Joe, which goes on for far too long, sinking into banality, the very thing that we seek to avoid when reading Joanne Harris. There is another instance in which The Stranglers' 'Strange Little Girl' is quoted. This may be snobbishness on my part, but I feel the song is too familiar to be mentioned at such length (although it's entirely right that Alice should mutter this song when she's hurrying after Rafe and Java at night). Of all Harris' characters, I regard Alice and Joe to be the weakest (although Joe does resonate powerfully later on). The balance of the narrators in 'Evil Seed' seems to be strangely awry. Because Alice's story was not narrated in the first person, like Daniel Holmes', she seemed more distant. Okay, so Daniel was writing in his diary, but since Alice is meant to be our contemporary, then she should be closer to us. In 'Blackberry Wine', Harris created a brilliant third person narrator in Jay, whilst 'Chocolat' and 'Sleep, Pale Sister' had excellent first person accounts. This is the only Joanne Harris novel where I feel that I could cut away at the entrails, whilst leaving the guts of the book intact, and it's probably no coincidence that this is her first novel.
I've said that Joe does become more powerful as a character later on, and I must once again note that there is always a certain amount of realism in Harris' magical fictions. It's true that I have encountered a couple of real women like Rosemary, and one of them was indeed a fellow student at Cambridge. I've seen Joe and Ginny's relationship played out in front of me before. She the weak fragile creature with seemingly endless powers of manipulation, he the protective man, reduced to quivering, nervous exhaustion: adolescent affairs driven into hormonal overdrive. It takes a brave author to tackle such themes. There is some perception that Joanne Harris is a feminist writer, perhaps driven by the image of the strong women in 'Sleep, Pale Sister' and 'Chocolat'. But this is to ignore the fact that she writes so well from the viewpoint of men. The depiction of Daniel Holmes' desires in this novel is startling. For a feminist writer, I feel, it would be too easy to see Rosemary/Ginny as victim. However, it is here that Harris' strong desire to tell a gripping story outpaces such blinkered dogma, and indeed, Daniel Holmes dismisses such beliefs when talking with his psychiatrist.
Joanne Harris has expressed some concern with the cover of this edition of 'Evil Seed' in the past, her fear being that the contents of the novel may be too strong for the hearts of the more mature readers commonly attracted by such twee artwork. To be fair to the artist, the cover is quite faithful to a passage in the book, it's just that the style is wrong: more Alice Farrell's 'Red Rose Romance' work, more 'Flower Fairy' than the darkness of the Pre-Raphaelites. Indeed, it seems as though the marketeers from Severn House have not fully read 'Evil Seed'. Yes, it is a Romantic novel - but it's Gothic Romance, not Mills and Boon! It is a work of tragedy, in which people die messily. This reverence of the Pre-Raphaelites is where Joanne Harris' fingerprints most show (she even seems to have named 'Inspector Turner' after Ruskin's nemesis). But after having read Harris' 'Sleep, Pale Sister', it seems, for a moment, that the Pre-Raphaelites are just tacked on here. (Perhaps there was a more concrete bridge between these two novels at one time?) However, if you do research into the paintings that Harris refers to in the text, such as Rossetti's 'The Blessed Damozel', then you come across the rather interesting history of Rossetti's model and wife, Elizabeth Siddal. She, like Elaine in Harris' novel, started out as a milliner. You've also got to admire Harris' use of Pre-Raphaelite parlance, since Elaine is quite accurately recruited as a model by an artist who refers to her as a 'stunner'. This is where Joanne Harris is so stimulating, why she is one of the most exciting writers around, because there is always so much texture to her work, layer after layer of rich detail.
The reason why Joanne Harris is concerned for the hearts of her older readers is because it soon becomes clear that 'Evil Seed' is a vampire novel. I've no doubt that fans of Buffy will devour this novel whole, but I do have concerns about inevitable comparisons with Anne Rice's work. Like 'Interview with a Vampire', 'Evil Seed' does contain an infant vamp. However, 'Interview with a Vampire' failed to move me and did not meet my expectations, and Harris creates a very different kind of bloodsucker. Joanne Harris has chosen her location wisely here in many ways. Since Cambridge is a university town, it is absolutely the right place for her shadowy monsters to remain hidden in plain view, since there are always new faces each year. However, there is nothing that reassures me more concerning the keenness of Harris' vision, than her description of the homeless. Certainly, the only thing that depressed and shocked me in early 90s Cambridge was the number of people living on the streets. Concentrated in the town centre, they seemed to outnumber those living in London. 'Evil Seed' is also Harris' most carnivalesque work. I don't think it's the blood and guts which frightens you, it's just that the prose makes your heart beat with so much adrenaline, so much pace, that your senses are liable to be heightened, to the extent that you will become very fearsome of the night...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings about this..., 27 Dec 2008
By 
sam155 (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Evil Seed (Paperback)
I have never read any Joanne Harris before but she had been highly recommended to me by several keen readers. I bought this mistakenly thinking it was her latest, only to find it was her first effort, reissued by public demand. The author opens by emphasising it is her first effort before she found her "voice" and was written when she was only 23. And it shows.

Its not a bad book, but if it was a first effort today, it may not have had such a large print run, shall we say. Some of her prose is beautiful and evocative, showing true signs of her later successes, but there are flaws which jar quite a bit and interrupt the fluidity of the prose.

For example, our heroine, Alice, has a telephone call from her ex boyfriend who had broken her heart three years previously and whom she hadn't seen since. Not only does he ring out of the blue, but he asks if his new girlfriend can live with her for a while. To me this was odd and clumsy and stilted. Her youth as a writer really shows here as her plot devices are sometimes as clunky as this. Another example is that, after an upset, Alice goes for such a long walk that she randomly ends up out of Cambridge and not only in a graveyard, but in front of the exact grave that is then relevant to the rest of the story. Its so clumsy and ham fisted that I thought a teenager had written it. My other bugbear is that the pre Raphaelite metaphor is driven home with all the subtlety of a sledge hammer, again and again. Okay, so Ginny has an ethereal beauty but, must it be mentioned every other page?

On the good side however, it is beautifully written and complex and the time frame between the two stories is handled well. It is extremely menacing and the violence and gore is very explicit, so be warned. And also, as the author herself warns you "there be vampires". In fact, if you don't like vampires, you will probably, like me, read half, flick to the end and give it away to someone who does. I should imagine it would make a good TV drama though. It hasn't put me off Joanne Harris though and I am looking forward to reading her later stuff next.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Calling All Gothic Lovers, 1 Sep 2012
By 
S. Emmett (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Evil Seed (Kindle Edition)
I've seen the film of Chocolat and enjoyed it. I'll put my hand up and say I haven't read the book. It's not really my kind of thing. And I'm sure Alan Titchmarsh meant well when he told Classic FM readers that Joanne Harris's latest book, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure (how do I find the sodding accent on here?!), is full of 'long and evocative descriptions of France and her food' but he made me doubt whether I was doing the right thing. You see, I was on my way to see Ms Harris at the SOA's annual Author's North Summer Social (if authors can actual attend anything remotely social). Long and evocative descriptions are not really my kind of thing.

I have to say that I found Joanne's talk utterly inspiring, so much so that I came home and finished my 'work in progress' which had been doing a reasonable impression of an angry boil for the last month. And she delighted me - being something of a cross between the school teacher we all wish we'd had (though she is far too young in my case) and a sort of Victoria Wood. Were that all authors performed in public so well. Anyhow, before I'm likened to Ronnie Corbett again, what has all this got to do with horror? If I hadn't gone along last Saturday I probably would never have known that Joanne's first ever novel was a vampire story called The Evil Seed. That made me sit up a bit, and I dare say you too. It had gone out of print but once she became famous, there was a call to re-release it. And I'm glad about that.

If you look at the reviews, The Evil Seed gets a mixed reception. One reviewer calls it 'turgid' - the kind of thing I might, in the past, have been known to say about long, evocative descriptions. I can only say that I loved it. This is a first novel, readers, and of course she's done things she wouldn't do now, maybe she privately cringes at parts, but it doesn't alter the fact that she creates a wondrous, dream-like, nightmarish horror. Yes, the prose is a little more flowery than I would normally praise, but in this case it works and adds to the haunting atmosphere. And the end did make me wonder if I'd had bit too much vin rouge, but that can't be all bad, can it? I hate tidy endings. Can it be compared to anything else? Well, Joanne says that her publishers hoped she was going to be the new Ann Rice. I dare she could have been if she'd used a lot more adjectives and adverbs.

If you like a brooding Gothic horror, I think you'll love it.

Now, you see, I might just be tempted to a little death by Chocolat...or Peaches...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shows little sign of the great things to come, 7 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Evil Seed (Paperback)
Contrary to popular belief, the wildly successful 'Chocolat' was not Joanne Harris' debut novel. That came nine years earlier with 'The Evil Seed', an ambitious attempt at a split viewpoint Gothic horror epic. (A second novel in a similar vein, 'Sleep Pale Sister', followed a couple of years later, but both eventually drifted out of print and remained largely forgotten until Harris became a mainstream success.) Harris provides an introduction to the novel in which she is surprisingly and admirably honest about its shortcomings, and the fact that it is down to demand from readers that it has been reissued; indeed, it's difficult not to sense that she was pressured by her publishers (who must have sensed a rare easy win) into the decision.

As Harris herself states, 'The Evil Seed' is somewhat over-ambitious. In its defence, the dual viewpoint and split timeline narration is ahead of its time (it would be some years before multiple narrators became so common as to almost be the norm); however, the mix of first- and third-person doesn't really come off. There is often too long between excerpts of the two separate but intertwined stories, making things somewhat disjointed, and when they are eventually tied together it is through a somewhat spurious coincidence. The novel also suffers from a lack of realism in key areas, notably that a doctor from a mental health institution shares confidential information with Alice (the present day protagonist) purely because she says it's important. It might be a supernatural novel, but that doesn't mean the 'natural' side of the world it is set in has to be unrealistic. However, the main problem with 'The Evil Seed' is that it is simply too long and becomes plodding for large periods. It cries out for an experienced editor; one who knows how to handle an inexperienced writer.

If you have never read a Joanne Harris novel, start with 'Chocolat' or 'The Five Quarters of the Orange'. Harris admits that she had yet to find her voice as an author when she wrote 'The Evil Seed', and while it is interesting to see how her writing style has developed (Harris actually suggests creative writing students should measure it against her later work as an example of such development) this novel really isn't strong enough to make it worth reading on its own terms, and is best left to diehard Harris fans keen to complete their collection.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, 26 May 2010
By 
V. Evans (Reus, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Evil Seed (Paperback)
I found this novel very interesting in the way the two stories inside it gradually intertwine. Unfortunately, there were times when the descriptions were disturbing, if not nauseating.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i,m sorry i have to disagree, this is good!!!!, 29 Mar 2010
By 
gadget girl "wifi" (sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Evil Seed (Paperback)
a vampire stoy for adults what more do you need, romance horror , gothic england all are here i couldnt put it down, i only purchased this one after i had read all her other novels which i enjoyed, then came runemarks her fantasy adventure novel a real departure from the norm and it was awsome so looking for more i ordered this and i have to say was pleasantly surprised. it really makes a change to see books like this that arent added to the "teen read" section just because they contain vampires after all you wouldnt put bram stoker there or terry pratchet would you.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Evil Seed, 20 April 2009
This review is from: The Evil Seed (Paperback)
Decent horror. Perhaps in places it is overwritten, perhaps the modern day strand isn't as developed as the past strand. The characters aren't as strong as they should be but there are effective moments scattered throughout the book and I've certainly ploughed through worse prose. In the foreword Harris makes some apologies for the book and her writing but it isn't the disaster she perhaps feels it is. If entered into with the correct spirit of a gothic tale of obsession, it does entertain. The malign influence which is spread to the characters is powerfully put across and the concept of how the 'evil seed' grows and grows anew chilling.
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The Evil Seed
The Evil Seed by Joanne Harris (Paperback - 11 Sep 2008)
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