A Quintessence of Evil Which Operated Through the Female of the Species

A Scent of New-Mown Hay – John Blackburn

This is the debut novel by prolific British author John Blackburn which was first published in 1958. Depending on which review you care to believe, this brief novel is either “formulaic trash” or “a truly memorable page-turner”, it certainly places one foot in the latter category. The story concerns the spread of a virulent contagion which mutates women, ultimately threatening the whole of humankind itself. As I read this book I couldn’t help but picture the action unfolding in grainy black & white as if watching a 1950s B-movie on the drive-in screen which is located in my head. Thematically, it’s a bizzare cross between alien invasion, biological horror and Cold War thriller which is always a great starting point in my opinion. I won’t go into any specific details here as I don’t want to spoil the plot but if a mere whiff of the involvement of female Nazi scientists makes you shiver in anticipation then this book is definitely for you.

My copy is the 1963 version published by Digit books and has the kind of cover art I see in my dreams;

New Mown Hay Front

New Mown Hay Rear

 

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