Author: Jessica D. Harpley
Publisher: 160 pages, October 15th 2015
From: the Author
Add to: Goodreads
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Synopsis: Set in an alternate universe, the protagonist, a self deprecating college student named Jen, is forced into a world where night time curfews are cruel, and monsters are real. Plagued with mental illness from birth, her twin brother was the only one who ever understood her. Since his engagement to a vain, dim-witted valley girl, he's been paying Jen less and less of the attention she desperately craves.
Her journey begins when she attempts to take her own life on New Year's Eve after a final spat with her brother, landing her on a deserted highway just outside of hell instead of falling to her death. With the ghostly image of her empty apartment building fading into the night, she knows that the only way is forward.
She's immediately greeted by a quirky engineer named Hopper, who is quick to gloss over the importance of getting out of sight; so quick it leaves Jen in another terrible spot. Separated from Hopper and captured by Collectors, she wakes in a nightmare to which there seems to be no escape, The Mill. Hunted by unnatural creatures in this dank underground, she begins to discover the importance of life, and the err of her mistake.
Upon meeting Aeden, another Mill survivor, they begin to devise a way out, or so she thinks. Monstrous transformations and hair raising battles ensue as Jen desperately clings to life for the first time. With the discovery of her own freakish shape shifting power, mutation courtesy of The Mill, she defends herself, and her companions with vigour, but to no avail. Jen is left alone, once again.
After escaping her confines, she is reunited with Hopper, who's undergone some disturbing alterations of her own. They make haste to the deserted highway in hopes that Jen can return home, but not before another run-in with the Collectors, hell bent on submitting Jen to their will. This is the moment she discovers the fire inside herself, her will to not only live, but thrive. Beating back their aggressors, Hopper and Jen fly from The Mill, leaving it to burn. Jen and Hopper share fond goodbyes, and exchange promises of remembrance. Jen leaps from her apartment build once more, this time, with a will to survive.
Review: 3.5 stars - When we were sent the request to review this book, the fact that the MC had the same name as me did encourage me to read it. Also I love dystopian fantasy fiction.
The cover art work is a bit creepy and almost comic book style, it doesn’t appeal to me personally, but fits in well with the book. I think it would appeal to the target age category.
Jen has been suffered with depression for years; she lives with her brother Michael and normally they rub along quite nicely. The only thorn in her side is her brother’s long term girlfriend Veronica.
When her brother and his girlfriend get engaged on Christmas day and Jen finds herself alone and once again sinking deeper into her depression.
On New Year’s Eve after an altercation with Veronica and Michael, Jen attempts to take her own life. After jumping off the roof of her apartment building, the last thing Jen expects to end up is on a deserted highway in an alternate universe.
I don’t want to say too much as it may spoil it for future readers. There are some great moments to get your imagination flowing- the mill itself and the shape shifters, conjure up images that are sure to scare the living daylights out of some readers. The Mill is not to be read with the light off and you will be checking behind you as you walk along a darkened street.
Albeit brief because of the nature of the book; The Mill includes details of Jen’s depression. I like how through the novella Jen finds confidence she never had before and she starts trusting herself to do things, rather than having her brother or someone else as almost an emotional crutch keeping her together.
With Hopper she has someone who relies on her being strong, were as her brother used to be the strong one she relied on.
The Mill can be described as a fantasy, horror almost dystopian fiction. I say almost dystopian, because in the ‘real world’ where Jen came from, The Mill is set in the present. But it has the post-apocalyptic feel to it.
I do wish it had been longer, but it gives you a good insight into life at The Mill. Maybe a possible prequel could come in the future, so we can learn how Aeden, Benjin and Drea ended up in the Mill.
A great debut novella from Jessica D. Harpley; I can see her doing well with this and future titles.
Read if you enjoyed The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Legend by Marie Lu or Charlie Higson’s the Enemy.