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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: The Pecan Children - Quinn Connor

Genre: Magical Realism, Mystery, Horror Published: Sourcebooks Landmark, June 2024 My Rating: 3/5 stars

Last year around this time I reviewed Quinn Connor’s debut novel Cicada’s Sing of Summer Graves and gave it 3-stars. I remember it vividly, because it was one of my biggest disappointments of the year. Not because it was a bad book, but because it was a 3-star execution of a set of 5-star ideas. This year, a strange time-loop thing seems to be going on, as I had the exact same experience with Connor’s sophomore novel…

It’s hard to give an overarching plot synopsis, or mention comp-titles, as it would spoil a very significant twist that occurs about 50-60% of the way through the novel. Instead, I’ll paint a picture of the scene and set-up for you, as that’s incidentally where Quinn Connor is at their best too.

The Pecan Children takes us to Clearwater, a deeply isolated Arkansas town sustained by the lush pecan orchards that surround it and are tied closely together with the local culture. We meet the Clearwater-sisters, descendants of the towns founders and owners of the largest orchard that is rumoured to hold special power over the land. Lil Clearwater has continued their family’s legacy in maintaining the orchard, whereas her sister Sasha left town long ago for a more lively existence in the city. Now, in the long and hot days approaching the annual Pecan Festival, Sasha has returned home. What should be a joyful reunion soon turns dark, as an ancient rot from deep beneath their family roots begins to take shape again.

What I loved:

Quinn Connor is a queen when it comes to setting the “Southern Ghostly Town” scene. Just like in Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves, you can almost feel the blazing heat in the air, taste Autumns baked goods, and smell the sweet scent of warm pecans coming off the pages. The images this book paints in your mind could fill a canvas, and their settings wouldn’t be out of place in the real world. Cicadas’ Prosper was a town I’d love to visit for a summer-vacation, and the same can be said for Clearwater’s Pecan Festival.

Another strong parallel to their debut is how layered in motifs and symbolism it is. Where Cicadas at times spread itself thin in mixing too many different metaphors, The Pecan Children remains true to the central motif, which adds to its strength.

What I didn’t love:

Again, a repeat of the sins of their debut; The Pecan Children lacks in terms of pacing and focus of the narrative. The first 60% or so (pre-twist) are incredibly slow, meandering and failed to engage me. Some character-build up and dropped puzzle-pieces were necessary to make the twist work, but this was too much, for too long. I tabbed my copy at the point where I predicted the twist (around the 30% mark), and had the reveal been around there, I would’ve felt there was the exact right amount of set-up present.

Partially because the set-up is so long and drawn out, the ending doesn’t feel completely satisfying. Some magical- and mystery-elements are never resolved and the emotional pay-off didn’t hit me the way it was supposed to.

Perhaps it’s a me-thing, but it’s a critique I often find myself having with books written by author-duo’s. It’s like the fact there isn’t a “single brain” keeping oversight over the whole creates a lack of focus and cohesion that I particularly notice.

Overall: very similar in vibes and themes to Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves, so if you liked that one, this is a safe bet to pick up as well.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can find this book here on Goodreads.


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