"a couple of twists and turns here that I won't give away. A mystery of sorts that needs to be worked out and a satisfying conclusion. Stop reading this review already and download this book."
- Charles Campbell, author of Cinnamon Tea and Mrs. Fields' Journal
Sit down for a moment, and imagine yourself on a front porch, its paint chipped and fading, in the slow heat of a Southern summer. Picture the sun going down, and the day reaching that moment between light and dark when suddenly the porch doesn't seem quite so safe any more and thoughts turn to stepping inside and closing the door. Perennials lives in that moment of disquiet in a place you call home.
Bryce Gibson has crafted a murder tale rooted in the rural world of the South, where families all know one another, where a serial killer stalks in a community that believes such things happen somewhere else, not here, not with us, in a place where you peer from behind twitching curtains and gossip about the moral failings of others.
This killer is hunting down a surprising target - people who share their name with plants. Mary Gold is the first we encounter, but not the last, and teenagers Dusty Miller and Nandina Bush fear they may be targets on the list.
The burn is slow in this story - deaths happen quickly but then we settle into the story of Dusty and Nandina, their blooming romance and the branches of family history that reach out across the landscape in which they live. Pieces of the puzzle are shown to us, but not slotted into place. Not yet. This story takes its time until, late in the game, things pick up pace, so fast that the innocent teenagers can't seem to follow what's going on until it may be too late.
There are some oddities in the writing - for example, Dusty's parts of the story are written in first person, while other characters are in the third person, which is a little jarring when you switch, and there are some parts of the story which happen off-camera, even towards the climax, which feel like they might have been part of the central narrative.
But there's a great deal to like here. Gibson has an elegant, easy style, and his characters feel very real, especially his central duo, tiptoeing towards love, feeling it is the biggest thing in the world even in the midst of fearing for their lives. Keep an eye on this writer, whose career shall surely grow.
On My Kindle.net
Break out the sweet tea, put your feet up, and prepare to go on a meandering tour of Crow County that will uncover the dark roots of a seemingly peaceful rural area and its residents. The dark, rich, and vivid setting lures you into an unsettling calm before the storm. You know that something is going to happen, but you do not know when or who it will happen to.
Then the elegantly crafted storm hits and tears away the facade that the residents have erected to hide their deepest secrets and darkest fears. A young love blossoms in the eye of this storm, but it may be stripped bare before it even has a chance to mature.
Then, just as you begin to think that you know who the killer is, Gibson adds another layer to the plot that keeps you guessing.
I enjoyed this book immensely! Between the exquisite setting that ensnared me immediately and the mystery that kept me guessing until the very end, I found myself reading it until the wee hours of the morning.
Do not let the "young adult" categorization fool you! Gibson's impeccable writing is not immature and is well-suited for adults who enjoy a good, dark mystery.
Perennials is a beautifully written serial killer thriller. It has twinges of horror and mystery which all intertwine to become a very original piece of work. Bryce Gibson knows how to create not only a surprising plot, but he also knows how to add art to the crimes committed in the novel. All good crime novels have an element of art to them, and Perennials more than succeeds in terms of that necessity.
Even though this novel is meant to be a young adult novel, it does not talk down to its reader. It doesn't sugarcoat the story to be seemingly more appropriate for its audience, and that is what I loved about it. It is brutal but written in clean language, proving that stories of crime do not need to be overly gruesome or cringe worthy. Perennials is a perfect novel to introduce children to the crime genre, while also allowing seasoned crime readers to enjoy its story as well.
Gibson knew what he was doing when naming all of the victims after plants, and he pulled off an incredible move by naming them after plants that are not very well known. This made the victims not as obvious, and it connected all of them together in a web. Perennials read as though it were an extensively planned story, and there were no inconsistencies. I have not read a crime novel recently that pulled off a plot as well as Perennials did, and I tore right through it.
Gibson is clearly one of our better crime novels in the indie genre. He has all of the artistic and systematic elements of a talented crime author, and I hope he continues to write.