Cynsations

Harvest House

Cover art by Britt Newton; cover design by Pam Consolazio.

HARVEST HOUSE by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, April 11, 2023). Ages 12-up. Also published by Thorndike Press (large-print edition).

NSK Neustadt Laureate and New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith delivers a thrilling cross-genre follow-up to the acclaimed HEARTS UNBROKEN.

Deftly leading readers to the literary crossroads of contemporary realism and haunting mystery, Cynthia Leitich Smith revisits the world of her American Indian Youth Literature Award winner HEARTS UNBROKEN.

Halloween is near, and Hughie Wolfe is volunteering at a new rural attraction: Harvest House. He’s excited to take part in the fun, spooky show—until he learns that an actor playing the vengeful spirit of an “Indian maiden,” a ghost inspired by local legend, will headline.

Folklore aside, unusual things have been happening at night at the crossroads near Harvest House. A creepy man is stalking teenage girls and young women, particularly Indigenous women; dogs are fretful and on edge; and wild animals are behaving strangely. While Hughie weighs how and when to speak up about the bigoted legend, he and his friends begin to investigate the crossroads and whether it might be haunted after all.

As Moon rises on All Hallow’s Eve, will they be able to protect themselves and their community?

Gripping and evocative, Harvest House showcases a versatile storyteller at her spooky, unsettling best.

Audio Edition Voice Actors: Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Charley Flyte (Listening Library, 2023):

Order HARVEST HOUSE by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Depending on the title, Cynthia’s books may be found from Native bookstores like Birchbark Books and Native Arts and Red Planet Books and Comics, her local independent BookPeople in Austin, other terrific Texas bookstores like Blue Willow Bookshop and Brazos Bookstore, retail sites supporting indie bookstores like BookShop (Affiliate), IndieBound and Libro.fm (audio books), brick-and-mortar chains like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and online retailer Amazon.com (Author Central).

HARVEST HOUSE (Candlewick, 2023)(Listening Library, 2023), HEARTS UNBROKEN (Candlewick, 2018, 2020)(Listening Library, 2023), and RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME (HarperCollins, 2001)(Heartdrum, 2021)(Harper Audio, 2022) are set in the same universe.

About the Cover Illustrator

Britt Newton is a Colorado-based artist and citizen of Muscogee Nation. She is also the illustrator of REZ, THE DOG, written by Laura Bullock.

Britt says, “It was an amazing opportunity to bring this cover and characters to life—a modern Native YA mystery is something I would’ve loved as a teenager and being able to contribute to this project has been a dream!”

Editor Insights

“HARVEST HOUSE has it all: a fast-paced mystery that keeps readers turning the pages, a sweet romance featuring two adorably shy teens, a spooky ghost story with a twist, and a critical look at issues faced by Native communities, from cultural appropriation to the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis. It’s a terrific read for Halloween or any time—beautifully written with humor and drama and characters to root for.”—Andrea Tompa, executive editor, Candlewick Press

Reviews

  “Using short, propulsive chapters, Smith…intertwines thoughtful conversation surrounding the racism faced by Indigenous teenagers with a convincing ghost story to craft a spine-tingling, edge-of-the-seat chiller.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ “Smith uses a slow, deliberate pace initially to take time to develop and deliver backstory for each character while building the mystery, then intensifies the pace about halfway through which carries the reader through to the story’s unexpected climax… This is one heckuva roller coaster ride that ratchets up the tension the closer the story comes to Halloween.” —School Library Connection, starred review

★ “…includes moments of joy: Hughie speaking to his sister in Mvskoke, the language of his ancestors, and doing seasonal activities with his friends. What results is an atmospheric, transfixing mystery.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

“This was a great read. It definitely works as a stand-alone story, but readers who have already read HEARTS UNBROKEN will enjoy getting to see more stories from characters they met in that book.” —Teen Librarian Toolbox at School Library Journal

“…well-paced and suspenseful, raising thoughtful questions about the intersections of urban legend, cultural trauma, and genre tropes.” —Booklist

“This eerie cross-genre novel will entice readers in search of spooky and truthful storytelling.” —The Horn Book

“An atmospheric novel compellingly interweaving chills and contemporary themes.” —Kirkus Reviews

“On Halloween, the haunted house and the spirits of the past collide. Taylor–Corbett narrates the bulk of the book with outstanding tonal changes that keep the range of characters defined for listeners. Flyte’s ethereal narration shines with her portrayal of Celeste at the story’s climax. A magical edition to Smith’s young adult novels.” —AudioFile

“…we need more YA that caters to younger teens and is under 300 pages. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s latest fits the bill perfectly.” —Tor.com

“Combines the power of community, the tragedy of Missing and Murdered indigenous Women (MMIW), and the never-ending fight against harmful stereotypes into a perfect jewel of a coming-of-age story.” —Crime Reads

“HARVEST HOUSE is suspenseful, insightful, and unputdownable.” —Seira Wilson, Amazon.com editor

“The spirit of a young Indigenous woman is rumored to haunt a crossroads, and who she was and what happened to her – and how the raw injustice of the past can leach its poison into the present – are at the heart of this well-crafted mystery….” —The Buffalo News

“…equal parts thoughtful and thrilling.” —The Austin American-Statesman

“…a deliciously spooky adventure teen audiences will devour.” —Buzzfeed

Awards and Honors
  • Bram Stoker Award® Nominee for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel (one of five 2023 titles)
  • Notable YA Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror of 2023 (Tor.com)
  • Rise: A Feminist Book Project (ALA)
  • American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) Best Books of 2023
  • Oklahoma Library Association’s 2025 High School Sequoyah Masterlist
  • 2023 Teaching for Change: Social Justice Books Selection
  • Amazon Editors’ Best Books of April in Teen and Young Adults
  • Amazon Best Teen and Young Adult Books of 2023 So Far
Author Insights

Process Talk: Cynthia Leitich Smith on HARVEST HOUSE from Uma Krishnaswami. PEEK: “My original concept was the fantastical one. What if a haunted-house attraction—the kind of place people go during October for a fun, safe scare—was really haunted? So, a ghost mystery was a given from the start. Problematic Halloween/horror tropes include the ‘Indian burial ground’ and ‘tragic Indian maiden.’ As an author who engages with the tradition of Story, Harvest House was an opportunity to unpack and address both through a Native lens.”

A portion of the author’s royalties will go to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women and the Native American Journalists Association. Although the death incorporated into this fictional story is accidental, in real life, this is far too often not the case and the CSVANW is addressing the ongoing crisis of Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People. Meanwhile, Native journalists play a major role in raising awareness and pressuring for positive political and systemic change.

Media Buzz

6 Must-Read YA Novels by Indigenous Authors by Laura Simeon from Kirkus Reviews. PEEK: “HARVEST HOUSE (Candlewick, April 11) by Muscogee citizen Cynthia Leitich Smith reunites fans with characters from 2018’s Hearts Unbroken but works equally well as a stand-alone read. It’s a spooky, atmospheric blend of Halloween chills and all-too-real fears, following theater-loving Muscogee teen Hughie as he confronts typecasting and investigates threats to his community.”

6 Favorite Authors Writing in New or Unexpected Genres by Alex Brown from Tor.com. PEEK: “It’s charming and chilling, a story about a haunted crossroads, racist violence perpetrated on Native people, and a group of teens trying to figure out how to get justice in a world designed to sideline them. I hadn’t expected a premise like this from Smith, but she absolutely nailed it.” SEE ALSO New Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy for March & April 2023 by Alex Brown from Tor.com.

21 Upcoming YA Novels You Won’t Be Able To Put Down by Rachel Strolle from BuzzFeed. PEEK: “Smith’s genre-bending companion novel to the beloved HEARTS UNBROKEN is a deliciously spooky adventure teen audiences will devour.”

International Women’s Day — 40 SFF Books By Women Of Color To Read This Year from Fanna for Books.

Indigenous Languages

The Native languages referenced in Harvest House are living languages. My sources were The College of the Muscogee Nation, the Muscogee Nation, and the Muscogee Nation Language App.
Ojibwe People’s Dictionary (OPD).

Mvskoke–English Glossary

Em vnicvkvs: help them (MNLA: Words)

Em vnicvs: help her/help him (MNLA: Words)

Heren vcafaste tomes: She treats me well. (MNLA: Describing People)

Hesci: hello (CMN)

Heruse tos: She is beautiful. (MNLA: Describing People)

Hvtvm cehecares: I will see you again. (MNLA: Words)

Lvpecicv: hurry up (to one person) (MNLA: Commands)*

Letkv: run (MNLA: Commands)

Lopice tos: She is kind. (MNLA: Describing People)

Mvto: thank you (MNLA: Words)

*  First edition typo has been identified in-house and corrected. Use spelling above.

Ojibwe–English Glossary

Miigwetch: thank you (OPD)

Nookomis: my grandmother (OPD)

Book Club, Educational & Media Resources

Educator/Discussion Guide: HARVEST HOUSE, written by Andrea Page (Lakota – Standing Rock), edited by AJ Eversole, designed by Bree Bender. Includes discussion questions and curriculum connections.

Harvest House Media Kit from Candlewick Press. Includes book specifications, flap copy, note from the author and companion book information.

Hardcover | $19.99 Published by Candlewick Apr 11, 2023 | 320 Pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | Young Adult | ISBN 9781536218602| Other editions: Audio