Saturday, February 12, 2022

Five novels about dangerous plants

Benjamin Percy is the author of six novels, the most recent among them The Unfamiliar Garden, the second book in the Comet Cycle.

At Lit Hub Percy writes:
The novels in the Comet Cycle are triggered by an age-old sci-fi concept: a comet comes streaking through the solar system, the planet spins through the debris field, and new elements are introduced to the world. These elements upend the laws of biology, geology, physics; they create chaos in the geopolitical theater; they shake up the energy and weapons sectors; and they—in a very Marvel-y sort of way—create a new dawn of heroes and villains.
Percy tagged five "stories—about dangerous plants—that seeded the growth" of The Unfamiliar Garden, including:
Victor LaValle, The Changeling (2018)

There is a maxim among writers. You want to create instant suspense? Put a kid in danger. That’s the hook of Victor LaValle’s brilliant and eerie urban fairy tale. A couple is struggling after having their first baby. Maybe post-partum depression is to blame. Or maybe the mother is right. Maybe this… thing… is not actually their child. Maybe it’s not human at all. To prove her theory, she shackles up her husband and forces him to watch as… well… we won’t get into that here. Let’s just call it an unspeakable act of violence that turns out to be entirely justified. Because their actual baby has been stolen and replaced by a root-tangled, mud-packed infant-shaped creature. A Changeling. The wheeling paranoia that leads to agonizing despair and then startling realization add up to one of the most powerfully staged sequences I have ever read. And the enchanted journey that follows is equally unforgettable.
Read about another entry on Percy's list.

The Changeling is among James Han Mattson's five top dark and disturbing reads, A.K. Larkwood's five tense books that blend sci-fi and horror, Leah Schnelbach's ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring domestic terrors and C.J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring missing, mistaken, or "changed" children.

--Marshal Zeringue