These Barren Hills

Fiction - Drama
338 Pages
Reviewed on 08/25/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Trevor Otieno for Readers' Favorite

A chilling tale of corporate greed and disregard, These Barren Hills is a must-read. Good jobs, a resurrected contemporary town, and quick money from the sale of their land all tempt people to move in. The majority are unknowingly heading toward calamity. As pertinent as today’s news stories about fracking and mountaintop-removal mining are the heartbreaking battles of small farmers to safeguard the water that is the lifeblood of the land they love and the key to their imperiled livelihood. David J. Heslop describes a multinational business that cares less about the lives of the people living there than it does about the land. Heslop realistically depicts the global corporation as a threat to the way of life of small-town residents who are at odds with it.

I couldn’t stop flipping the pages of These Barren Hills because of its current affairs narrative. The fight between the power of Big Money and the local landowners and farmers serves as the backdrop for the growth of the major characters. There are a ton of fully realized, three-dimensional personalities with real voices in them. The setting in the southern Arizona desert reflects the region’s arid beauty and unique character in a stunning way. I would recommend this book to readers who are interested in the struggle between those who want to protect the environment and those who want to destroy it to boost their quarterly earnings while leaving behind a damaged wasteland for future generations to lament. David J. Heslop has written an exceptional work.

Gary J George, Author, Smoke Tree series

Readers who enjoyed David Heslop's debut novel, "Red Cloud Pistachios," will be pleased to realize they were on the ground floor of discovering a major American regional voice. His second novel, "These Barren Hills," is the work of a gifted, talented, mature writer. It is filled with fully-realized, multi-dimensional characters who speak with authentic voices. The story, set in the desert landscape of southern Arizona, creates a marvelous sense of place and captures the stark beauty and essence of the region.

Mark Twain once said, "Whiskey is for drinkin', water is for fightin'." The poignant struggle of small farmers trying to protect the water that is the lifeblood of the land they love and the key to their threatened livelihood is as timely as today's headlines about fracking and mountaintop-removal mining. The author authentically portrays the lives of small-town people locked in battle with the financial and political power of a multi-national conglomerate that cares no more about the land than it does about the lives of the people living on it.

If you care about the struggle between those who would nurture and protect the earth and those who would eviscerate the planet for quarterly profits, leaving the despoiled husk for future generations to mourn, you must read this book! And be prepared for some unpleasant truths. This is a complete novel, not a polemic. Not all the despoilers in this story are corporate monsters. Some are greedy locals who sow the seeds of their own demise and then rail against the weeds that spring from the ruined earth.