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The Herd

"Personal freedoms versus public health - this timely, compulsive, family-focussed debut will spark discussion of vaccination debates."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Though told with clarity and balance, Emily Edwards’ The Herd is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel for readers who like their fiction to have real-life resonance, and family life at its heart. Exploring both sides of the child vaccination debate through two women, its themes and heated scenarios chime with current vaccination debates and conflicts. Namely, how societies and individuals navigate and reconcile public health needs with personal beliefs and fears.

Super-organised, methodical Elizabeth and bohemian Bryony “weren’t exactly chalk and cheese; more like cheese and pineapple - a weird, unexpected pairing that just worked”. Close friends and now neighbours, they’re godmothers to one another’s daughters, and have found a way to balance each of their differences, except on one big issue - vaccinating their daughters. The unravelling of their friendship begins with a birthday party and ends up with tragic consequences, explosive public show-downs and unexpected revelations. Powerful, pertinent stuff.

Joanne Owen

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Reader Reviews

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This is a really great read, and it’s one of those books that is just so good on so many levels. It is a truly great thought provoking debut novel.

This is really good read, and it’s one of those books that is good on so many levels. Firstly it is really well written. The characters are all really well rounded with such individual natures but all very real too. The story itself is so well thought out and sensitively written. I kept wondering how this story would end as the story was so well balanced but the author clearly had it covered and I think the story had the perfect ending for such a story. On the face of it it is a story about differences of opinions centred around vaccinations but I actually think it is a much bigger story than that, it is about friendships and relationships but ultimately it is about being a parent, how complicated that can be and how it makes everyone feel differently.... Read Full Review

Lynne Packer

Timely and emotionally involving exploration of the privilege of choice and the cost involved.

At a time when the Covid-19 vaccine debate is raging, Emily Edwards' even-handed and emotive family drama tackles another just as hotly contested vaccination debate with its focus on those given exclusively to children. Probing when social responsibility takes precedence over the “my child, my choice” argument, this is a book ready made for discussion.

Middle-class mothers organised Elizabeth and laid-back Bry are best friends, neighbours and godmothers to each other’s children. Elizabeth youngest child, Clemmie, is about to turn seven but due to seizures as a baby she wasn’t able to have the standard childhood vaccinations and, as such, relies on those around her being immunised. Ahead of the party, neurotic Elizabeth fires off an email to the parents of Clemmie’s guests querying their vaccination status.... Read Full Review

Rachel Hall

Relevant, significant and thought-provoking, The Herd combines a balanced approach to a very current and emotive issue with believable characters and a cracking good read.

Bry and Elizabeth. Lifelong friends who can read each other’s emotions by body language alone. So close that each knows what the other is thinking without needing to say a word. What could possibly shatter their bond? But just because they are close doesn’t mean that they always have to agree. Ex-solicitor Elizabeth controls her family, three children and husband, with an iron fist. Campaigning for the community and working for the benefit of others while Bry is a free spirit. Raising her daughter in what Elizabeth would call a haphazard way. Godmothers to each other’s girls, the women are always there for each other but one small decision, an apparently minor lie, will change all that forever.... Read Full Review

S Harper