T.M. Blanchet's Herrick's End was published by Tiny Fox Press in May 2022.
T.M. is a former reporter, editor, and award-winning humor columnist, as well as the author of the "Dog-Friendly" travel series from Countryman Press and The Cow Crashed in to the Moon: Messing Up Motherhood in 7 Easy Steps. She founded the nonprofit organization Operation Delta Dog: Service Dogs for Veterans in 2013.
T.M. is also a producer at A Mighty Blaze, an initiative created in 2020 to help authors and indie bookstores reach readers during the Covid-19 crisis, and the producer and host of A Mighty Blaze Podcast. She is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The Neath #1
by T. M. Blanchet
You did nothing. You were nothing. And so, you shall remain here, until the end of your days. As nothing.
Ollie’s only friend disappeared a few days ago, and now, he’s frantic to find her. But he doesn’t have much to go on until a mysterious note arrives which reads:
“Still looking for your friend? I know where she is.”
Unfortunately for Ollie, the trail leads to the last place he’d ever expect.
REVIEW: HERRICK'S END BY T.M. BLANCHET
Are you ready for an amazing and fantastical adventure? If you are, please step into this book's world and treat yourself to an impressive story that will keep you turning pages to find out what happens next.
T.M. Blanchet's Herrick's End is the first book in The Neath Trilogy (it will be followed by Herrick Lie, which is to be published next year). I was positively surprised by this book and found it enjoyable and entertaining. I honestly don't recollect reading a YA fantasy book quite like this one ever before, because it's something different and wholly original (although this book is a YA fantasy book, I can highly recommend it to adult readers, because it will appeal to older readers due to its dark elements and gripping prose). The fresh combination of modern, old-fashioned and fresh elements works perfectly and offers wonderful escapism to the reader. To be honest, this is one of the best books I've read this year.
Herrick's End begins with a glimpse into the past when supposed witches are being taken to be hanged... After the prologue, the story skips ahead to modern day. Ollie Delgato wonders where his friend Nell has disappeared, because she seems to have vanished without any kind of explanation. Soon, he receives a mysterious note which reads: "Still looking for your friend? I know where she is." When he meets the stranger who sent the note, he finds out that Nell has gone to a place from which she may not return without help and he must leave almost immediately to save her. When he meets the stranger and follows his advice, he finds himself in a strange place, the Neath, which is different from the normal world. Soon, he is in big trouble and has to find a way out before it's too late...
As I began to read the story, I found myself intrigued by what I read, because I was introduced to a mysterious place, which is hidden below the ground and can only be reached by those who know how to travel there.
One of the things that makes the story stand out is the author's way of writing about women who are victims of abuse and violence. In this book, those who have harmed women, receive punishments that match their deeds. The more heinous the deed, the worse the punishment. This brings depth and darkness to the story, because fantasy books seldom deal with abuse and violence against women. The author's approach to this serious issue feels fresh and makes the reader think about what happens to people who are in abusive relationships.
I found the the characterisation engaging and enjoyed the author's descriptions about the protagonist and the minor characters.
Ollie Delgato is a young man who struggles with weight problems. He's a likeable and relatable character who misses his friend so much that he tries to find her. Unfortunately, his efforts lead him to a nightmarish and strange place that exists below the ground and he has to find his way out of there before it may be too late for him to return.
Tera is an intriguing character, because she helps Ollie and gradually befriends him. She has lived in the Neath for a while and knows a lot about the place. She teaches Ollie things about the world and guides him where he needs to go.
I'm pleased to say that the worldbuilding in this book is magnificent, because the author has created a fascinating fantasy world. As the story unfolds, you are treated to wondrous sights that will fascinate and also terrify you in equal measure. The immersiveness of the world is simply amazing, because the author's descriptions about the places are evocative and awaken a sense of wonder in the reader.
The author has imagined a vast underground world, which has been created by witches and a man called George Herrick. The Neath differs from the above world and has a different kind of atmosphere that, after a certain amount of time, affects the lungs of those who spend time there. The world is inhabited by people who have adapted to its atmosphere and have learned to live there. Besides people living below the ground, there are also animals which range from furry otter-like trogs to worm-like wormwalkers who live in high up in the ceiling.
T.M. Blanchet's Herrick's End is an utterly charming fantasy adventure to readers who love good and immersive stories. It's the kind of book you can lose yourself into and take a break from the reality. If you find yourself craving for fresh fantasy escapism, you'll find a lot to love in this book, because it's wonderful entertainment.