The Harrow by Karen Carr (Goodreads)
I won a copy of The Harrow in a Goodreads giveaway and have agreed to write a review with my honest opinion.
The Harrow follows our main character Callie, after a seemingly normal trip to her local YMCA ends with her lost in another world and another time. Callie has no idea where she is or how she got there. Before she has a chance to comprehend what is going on, she witnesses a girl being murdered by a boy – a boy she has seen in her dreams. It turns out that this boy is Duncan, a prince in this world, and the reason that Callie was brought there. Every year, something called the Harrow begins – women from all over the world and different time periods are pulled into Duncan’s land and forced to fight for their survival. By the end of each Harrow, all of the women must die, until Duncan finds the one woman he is meant to be with – the sole survivor of the Harrow.
I really wanted to enjoy this book a lot more than I did. The premise seemed very interesting. I thought it would be dark, creepy, and action-packed. There was a good base plot line there, but I wish it had been more fleshed out. The world of the Harrow had some really interesting aspects to it – the land had been stuck in a period of winter for years and there were all kinds of mechanized, steampunk animals roaming around. What could have been some fantastic world building fell flat for me, because I barely learned anything about the awesome world I was thrust into. There were also numerous times in the book where some ominous foreshadowing would be thrown in – but then it was never mentioned again! Ideas seemed to be thrown onto the page, but then never developed.What happened????
I really didn’t feel any kind of connection to the characters in The Harrow. I actually liked most of the side characters way more than Callie and Duncan. From one paragraph to the next, our two main characters would frequently go from trying to escape the Harrow, to lusting after each other in a few sentences of really cringe-worthy smut. I’m sorry, but “groin” is never (EVER) a sexy word. Their randomly intense insta-love really wasn’t believable at all for me, and ended up preventing me from connecting with Callie and Duncan at all.
Despite the issues I had with the world building and character development, the thing that bothered me the most about The Harrow was the actual presentation of the book itself. I know this doesn’t bother some readers at all, but the way a book is presented to me plays a big part in my enjoyment of my reading experience. I understand that The Harrow was not published by one of the major publishing houses, and I know that it is incredibly hard work for authors to get their books published independently, but to me that means there is all the more reason for proofreading and editing. Typos happen – no one’s perfect. But there was a typo on almost every page. Even the formatting changed. On some pages the paragraphs were double-spaced, and sometimes they were single-spaced – with no rhyme or reason to the changes. The thing that really got me though, was the use of incorrect words throughout the book. There were so many times that words were replaced with their homophones, rendering the sentence completely nonsensical. (For example: “I sat in my thrown.” A ruler sits ON a THRONE!!!) I found errors like these to be so distracting and they really pulled my attention away from the plot.
All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this book. I think the plot was really interesting and it could have been really cool if it had been fleshed out a bit more. Maybe we will be lucky enough to get some more world building in the later books in this series. But for me, I don’t think I will be picking up the next book, so I will never know.
When improper grammar drives you bonkers…..
…..blame it on the books.