Title: What Comes From the Earth
Author: Kris Holt
Genre: Political Thriller
Kris Holt is not a new writer on my radar, if I’m honest. We’ve been mutuals on Twitter for a little over two years now, and in that time I’ve read a fair handful of his articles and always admired his use of language. Suffice to say, I’m a little ashamed that it’s taken me this long to pick up one of his novels, certainty of enjoyment notwithstanding.
What Comes From the Earth is an engaging read, a story that moves quickly and easily forward, and characters so alive you can practically hear them breathing between the pages. The protagonist, Sithi, is immediately relatable and sympathetic. His plight throughout the story only adds more personal tension for the reader as he sinks deeper and deeper into the dark intrigue and violence surrounding him. His reactions are very human, despite being often wrong or cowardly, and in that I think he makes a very excellent protagonist. He’s far from infallible, and I always appreciate that.
The side characters were all equally as impressive in their range and realism, particularly Ade and Baako, but more than these –excellent as they were- I’d like to specifically make mention of Boipelo. My concern for her came from a place of experience in the land of books, as her brief, early appearances lay a large question mark in my mind as to her role in the story. She is what you might consider at first glance the typical damsel in distress; a beautiful, strong, wilful female character surrounded by pages and pages of men. I groaned inwardly at the potential for her to suffer great violence in order to further Sithi’s own narrative, and expected her fate to be that of a cowed and hog-tied prize for our hero at the end of the book.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn’t her fate at all, and in fact she was afforded great courtesy, humanity, and dignity as I rarely see male writers offer to the ladies in their work. Well done, Kris. Very well done!
The style of writing is very impressive, with the same sharp wit and momentum I have come to expect from the author, as well as a very lean and tight narrative. There isn’t a single scrap of fat in this story, nor any of the preening, self-indulgence that can often be all too frequent in this genre, and that alone makes it an incredibly enjoyable read.
Kris has successfully taken a very difficult setting and written it with grace and understanding, tackling themes of violence with respect, and pitted it against bright, cunning, and even brutal characters who, as a reader, I became incredibly invested in as the story progressed to its climax.
I enjoyed What Comes From the Earth immensely, and I’ll be certain to pick up more work by Kris Holt very soon!