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.