Harvest House (Hardcover)
Is there a ghost haunting the crossroads? Is there a stalker looking for dark-haired Indigenous girls? Hughie and Sam are asked to volunteer to work in a nonprofit haunted house in a long-abandoned chicken restaurant. As Halloween approaches, many people get involved, the teenagers explore their first crushes, and more spooky appearances happen. Hughie stands up against the clearly tone-deaf boss of the event where local lore still claims that an Indian maiden haunts it all. The novel takes an unusual "fantasy" turn at the end, which works.— Valerie
NSK Neustadt Laureate and New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith delivers a thrilling cross-genre follow-up to the acclaimed Hearts Unbroken.
Deftly leading readers to the literary crossroads of contemporary realism and haunting mystery, Cynthia Leitich Smith revisits the world of her American Indian Youth Literature Award winner Hearts Unbroken. Halloween is near, and Hughie Wolfe is volunteering at a new rural attraction: Harvest House. He’s excited to take part in the fun, spooky show—until he learns that an actor playing the vengeful spirit of an “Indian maiden,” a ghost inspired by local legend, will headline. Folklore aside, unusual things have been happening at night at the crossroads near Harvest House. A creepy man is stalking teenage girls and young women, particularly Indigenous women; dogs are fretful and on edge; and wild animals are behaving strangely. While Hughie weighs how and when to speak up about the bigoted legend, he and his friends begin to investigate the crossroads and whether it might be haunted after all. As Moon rises on All Hallow’s Eve, will they be able to protect themselves and their community? Gripping and evocative, Harvest House showcases a versatile storyteller at her spooky, unsettling best.
About the Author
Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times best-selling, award-winning author of Hearts Unbroken, the Tantalize series, and the Feral trilogy. An NSK Neustadt Laureate and the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, she was named the inaugural Katherine Paterson Chair on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. A citizen of the Muscogee Nation, Cynthia Leitich Smith lives in Austin, Texas.
[Smith] draws on effective examples of microaggressions, bigotry, and exploitation to punctuate her point. But she also includes moments of joy: Hughie speaking to his sister in Mvskoke, the language of his ancestors, and doing seasonal activities with his friends. What results is an atmospheric, transfixing mystery.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Using short, propulsive chapters, Smith (Hearts Unbroken), a member of the Muscogee Nation, intertwines thoughtful conversation surrounding the racism faced by Indigenous teenagers with a convincing ghost story to craft a spine-tingling, edge-of-the-seat chiller.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Part coming-of-age tale, part social justice story, and part paranormal thriller. . . . Smith knows what appeals to teens and what makes them tick, and so includes plenty of current teen slang and occasional curse words to keep this story relevant and engaging for them. This is one heckuva roller coaster ride that ratchets up the tension the closer the story comes to Halloween.
—School Library Connection (starred review)
Superbly highlights and discusses key topics facing contemporary Indigenous youths, including redface and the plights of missing and murdered Indigenous women and two-spirit people. Hughie’s encounters with different types of racism are recognizably authentic, handled with delicacy and distinct realism. . . . An atmospheric novel compellingly interweaving chills and contemporary themes.
Adeptly centers important conversations about the racism Indigenous youth face; the plight of missing Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people; and the lack of police, media, and governmental support in searching for them. This eerie cross-genre novel will entice readers in search of spooky and truthful storytelling.
—The Horn Book
Smith’s companion novel to Hearts Unbroken (2018) is well-paced and suspenseful, raising thoughtful questions about the intersections of urban legend, cultural trauma, and genre tropes.
Smith’s genre-bending companion novel to the beloved Hearts Unbroken is a deliciously spooky adventure teen audiences will devour.
The spirit of a young indigenous woman is rumored to haunt a crossroads, and who she was and what happened to her – and how the raw injustice of the past can leach its poison into the present – are at the heart of this well-crafted mystery from Cynthia Leitich Smith, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at HarperCollins Children's Books.
—The Buffalo News
Cynthia Leitich Smith has written a bunch of books across children’s and young adult, both fantasy and contemporary fiction about Indigenous characters. Harvest House is her first foray into ghosts and murder mysteries, and it did not disappoint. It’s charming and chilling, a story about a haunted crossroads, racist violence perpetrated on Native people, and a group of teens trying to figure out how to get justice in a world designed to sideline them. I hadn’t expected a premise like this from Smith, but she absolutely nailed it.
Leitich Smith returns to the world of her award-winning young adult novel, “Hearts Unbroken,” with “Harvest House,” which centers on Hughie, the younger brother of Lou Wolfe from "Hearts." Hughie’s grappling with mysterious goings-on near a Halloween haunted house that plans to use Native stereotypes as the basis for one of its attractions. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation teen’s struggle with why and how to speak up, along with the very real dangers the book explores, make “Harvest House” equal parts thoughtful and thrilling.
—The Austin-American Statesman