THE BAD SEED
BeWrite Books, 2005
Reviewed by Joy
Agatha Hock has been living in a fantasy life. Her daughter is gone, her husband is gone, and she makes her living writing a popular newspaper column which chronicles a garden she doesn't have. Not for the newspapers that spattered the story of her missing daughter all over Australia. Not for the newspapers that made it so impossible for her husband to deal with their loss that he took off for the Outback. Agatha writes for the quiet, ladylike Womanly You.
Career crisis. Agatha has given her editor the impression that her garden is real. Now he wants to run a contest, with First Prize being a tour of Agatha's presumably lovely estate. Agatha must acquire an estate. Enter the witch's house.
We were introduced to the reputed witch shortly before her death. Her empty house is so rundown one would think it was better off bulldozed, but Agatha needs a garden, and she buys it. And here comes the war: blackberries vs. Agatha. She wins the first round but loses all the later ones, so that the garden she winds up is quite different than the Shakespeare Garden she planned.
"Are there any other people in this story?" you might ask after reading for a while. With relief I can answer that: There are. On page forty-one other characters enter the book. Gradually people converge more or less mysteriously on Agatha Springs, and our many questions begin to be answered.
THE BAD SEED is a horror novel based on character. During the first pages I felt like I had to brush away the clinging folds of a shroud from my face so I could read. Agatha's loss of contact with reality is tangible, made so by the convoluted, fantasy-flavored writing of author Maurilia Meehan. She never allows us to forget that we cannot trust Agatha's realities, including her view of the people in her life.
THE BAD SEED is the fifth book by Maurilia Meehan. In manuscript version it was shortlisted for the Australian Vogel Award. For me it was claustrophobic, but for horror lovers it will be a tasty new experience.
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