Happy almost Halloween guys and ghouls! For this blog post, I am reviewing Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge, a book I had never heard of before until it was suggested for a group read along by my fellow Stranger Dream reps. The chat is usually filled with discussions of all things creepy and scary as we are all avid horror fans, so naturally when we chose a group read for Halloween, it was going to be a horror book…and this one is genuinely the ultimate Halloween read. Here is the synopsis:
Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol’ Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.
Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He’s willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror–and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . . .
The book is set in a backwards little hick town in the middle of nowhere, run by a very shady bunch of corrupt and evil adults, where every Halloween they hold their own version of the hunger games. All the young boys are starved for five days and then let loose on Halloween night with weapons, to hunt down and kill the October Boy, essentially a living pumpkin, as a twisted right of passage. The only way to escape the town is to kill him and be crowned the victor, or so the boys think.
This is one Hell of a ride…with an incredibly fast pace and constant action, it’s a real page turner. It’s also not a particularly long read so because I literally couldn’t put it down, I had it read in a day! Partridge perfect describes action sequences and it means they book plays like a really great horror film inside your head. On that note, if there happens to be any movie producers or Netflix executives out there reading my tiny blog, then please PLEASE turn this into a movie or show…it would be perfect! It would be epic!
Despite the book not being long, Partridge manages to create a very real world filled with believable, three dimensional characters. I can picture that town perfectly, with its dusty back roads and a church at its centre, meaningless building to a town full of people who abandoned God long ago, or perhaps a town which God abandoned. There is the main character, Pete McCormick, an intelligent boy with a rebellious streak, determined to break free of it and there is the local law man, Ricks, a corrupt, cruel and violent man who rules the town with an iron fist and kills easily and gleefully to maintain the status quo. Even the October Boy himself is portrayed to perfection, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll just say this…sometimes the real horrors aren’t the monsters and ghouls, but human beings.
The entire storyline is incredibly original and it isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before. Partridge is a truly talented writer creating an immersive and enjoyable experience for the reader from start to finish. Overall, I cannot recommend it enough and I’m giving it five star!! That’s right- full marks! Grab a copy now…you won’t regret it.