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3.4 out of 5 stars
The Evil Seed
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
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 at literature is nearly always to be fascinating, and this is no exception. With huge honesty, Harris herself acknowledges that the book was never a masterpiece as she had not found her own voice. But what it does do is suggest at the kind of writer she would later turn into.

THE EVIL SEED is a gothic novel about vampires, although this phrase is never used within the story itself. Alice, a young woman living in Cambridge, is devastated to discover that a man she once loved has now found someone else he loves. Alice cannot stand his new girlfriend, Ginny, but for the sake of Joe, she tries to make friends with her. But as she gets to know more and more about Ginny, Alice dislikes her even more as she seems to lie to Joe about everything.
Alice then discovers an old journal, written by a man called Daniel Holmes just after the Second World War. As she reads Daniel's journal, which describes how he and his friend Robert fell under the spell of a beautiful young woman called Rosemary, Alice fears that the past has resurfaced.

That is the basic plot. The story is told by alternating chapters going from the past to the present. The fact that this was a debut novel does show. Parts of the story are not really thought out very well, while other parts are dramatically over-written. As Harris explains at the beginning, the plot was an ambitious one - while it certainly offers some originality to the whole mythology of the vampire, it was perhaps too big for a beginning novelist.
Although this book is not a masterpiece, what it does offer the reader is a chance to see how an author began her career and then went on to develop afterwards. And it does give some hints at just how good she was to become.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 December 2007
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 so make sure you snap up a copy before it goes out of print again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
All on the menu for our lunch party to chat about this early work by Joanne Harris. The idea of the meal being somehow related to the book worked better with previous choices; The Secret Life of Bees - peaches and honey, The Elegance of The Hedgehog - macaroons and the naughtily named `nun's farts". Mistakenly thinking hurray here's one of her's that we haven't read, our book club happily chose it.

However not all first pressings are excellent and The Evil Seed was passed over for a reason - it's a mess. By the end the story was all over the place, even having been tidied up a little for this printing by the author. Try as I did, I couldn't keep up.

There are some well-written bits about Cambridge and some scarey parts when people certainly aren't what they seem. I haven't read any of the teenage books for which this might be a forerunner but I would categorise this as a young adult book - horror section. So if that's your bag, get stuck in.

Messy, gory and unbelievable (thankfully) this book has been around for two decades. The author's notes are fascinating, explaining that she wrote it when she was twenty three; a trainee teacher `a few years out of Cambridge.' I really enjoyed that thirteen-page section. It showed how an author develops and for that reason I am glad that I have read this, if for no other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2012
A fantastic novel which is dark and gothic in tone. A wonderfully convincing fantasy. Teen fans of the twilight series would enjoy this, as well as fans of wuthering heights and Frankenstein. A triumphant novel for all fans of gothic fiction as well as fans of Joanne Harris.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2012
I found this book interesting more because it is Joanne Harris's début novel rather than for the book itself. The writing is quite poor compared to her later books and I found that she did not develop the characters as well as she usually does. However there are plenty of parts where you can see her normal writing style starting to develop.

I found the story line itself to be quite good. It twists and turns a lot in the same way that is usual for her, although there was a part which I had expected to be explained and wasn't (I wont give anything away), which felt more like an inconsistency than something deliberate.

The story is dark, in the same was that sleep pale sister is, and although it is a romantic novel of sorts, there is nothing of the beautifully romantic magic of some of her other books such as Chocolat or Blackberry Wine.

If you are a Joanne Harris fan then I think it is well worth a read. If this is the first Joanne Harris book you have read then please do not base your opinion of her on this one, it is very different from most of her other works.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2008
Harris's foreword states that her publisher and her fans clamoured for the re-release of this book, but for the life of me I can't understand why she allowed it! She herself admits the writing style is somewhat undeveloped - over-blown might be a better description... I haven't come across such floridly turgid prose in a long time (thank goodness). Although the plot itself was interesting enough to keep me plodding on the bitter end, it was a actually with a sigh of relief that I reached the last page! Such a total contrast to her more well-known books (which I've enjoyed), in both storyline and literary style, but not in a good way. Sorry Joanne!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2009
This novel is a great insight into how Harris became the fantastic writer she is. Although naive at times and over-written in parts, there are flashes of brilliance and like all her novels the story is compelling enough to keep you turning the page. Where her later novels are grounded in magic, this one is well and truly stuck in the horror genre. At times it is really frightening and the writing will send a shiver up your spine. Maybe not as fantastic as her later work but with a debut like this you can understand why Harris has become such a great writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2012
I wouldn't say I exactly enjoyed this book, but it was certainly memorable and haunting too. If you rate Joanne Harris then this is worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2011
fantastic book ,the first but equal to her later works. would recommend to all Joanne Harris fans and fans of the vampire genre.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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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