I received this book in exchange for a review via Netgalley, all opinions are my own. Any amazon links are affiliated, meaning I may make a small commission off any purchases
The cover is intriguing, but seems to suggest more of a horror-feel than the short story provides
Working on completing her ecology graduate degree, Bernice is doing invasive species research in Cleary Swamp when she is confronted by a mysterious hag who says she is the swamp’s caretaker.
When Bernice discovers that the hag is actually a woman named Rebecca Hallett who disappeared in the swamp decades before, she attempts to remove the strange old woman from Cleary Swamp, but little does Bernice know that Rebecca has a mystical bond to the area—one that possesses a human host and bonds them to it.
One magical hallucinogenic powder cocktail and a space opera spirit journey later, Bernice’s life has changed forever. The swamp wants her for its new caretaker, and it won’t take no for an answer.
Come Back to the Swamp was a very quick read, closer to a short story than a novella. Despite this, Bernice and Kevin were sympathetic characters, and their development helped drive the story forward. The swamp setting was unique, and one I enjoyed, though the magical link and powers of its caretaker was left somewhat underexplained. Likewise, the story’s antagonist was not given as much motivation or backstory as I would have liked; and the lack of twists or depth in Come Back to the Swamp’s plot did make the story less exciting than it could have been.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t tension. I enjoyed seeing Bernice and Kevin interact, and I liked the dilemma Bernice faced later in the novel as she came to terms with everything that had changed over the course of the story. I wasn’t overly fond of the conclusion of this story, but it was satisfying. I wish that more world building had happened to provide more motivation for Bernice and Rebecca alike, but given the short length of this story it was well constructed and fun. The ridiculous nature of some of the situations faced, the swamp setting and the surprisingly heart warming moments in this story all reminded me of Molly Harper’s Mystic Bayou series, and I think anyone who enjoyed that series will enjoy Come Back to the Swamp, available August 4th, 2020.