18 January 2011

Drought; Pam Bachorz

DroughtDrought by Pam Bachorz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, a fantasy author not afraid to write one-offs! I liked Candor and was looking forward to Ms. Bachorz' next effort - Drought is a worthy follow-up.

This is like Tuck Everlasting going horribly wrong: a man named Otto appeared out of the woods in 1812, collecting water from leaves and grass with a pewter cup. Then, by adding a couple of drops of his own blood, he created Water... 200 years later, in upstate New York (northeast of Albany, near Hoosick Falls), a compound of Congregants lives under Darwin West's thumb. Their task is to continue Otto's work, gathering water for him to sell to the Visitor. There are Overseers who watch their every move, and if they fail to make quota, there are whippings.

Sula, the pastor of this Congregation, leads Sunday services in Otto's name - all is done in the eternal wait for Otto's return. She takes the beatings, and turns water into Water using vials of blood Otto left. When that runs out, her and Otto's daughter Ruby's blood sustains the community and keeps it going. Ruby, unfortunately, is starting to ask questions (after 200 years, one would hope so): why don't they want to be free? will Otto ever come? What keeps her there is the knowledge that without her blood, the Congregation will die.

I won't go any further, because to do so would spoil the book; suffice it to say that this won't disappoint. Amazingly, there are questions left unanswered (no obnoxious epilogues, no sequels) and readers can decide for themselves what will happen.

ARC provided by publisher.

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