I don't do a whole lot of book reviews...or any reviews for that matter, and that's a bit odd. I mean, I don't so much read as I DEVOUR books, and I'm pretty durned opinionated, so what gives? I've reviewed stuff in the past, usually for the now-defunct Borders website, but not so much anymore. Well, perhaps I should change that, eh? Well, seeing as the Halloween season is upon us, it seems a good time to review a tale that ties directly to my favorite holiday.
I bought Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest based soley on a review from a friend. It seemed like my cuppa hemlock, so I snagged it dirt cheap off of Amazon. Now, being completely honest here, it seemed like a safe bet...you can't judge a book by the cover, but even if I didn't dig the story itself, I'd at least have that cool Jon Foster artwork to gaze at on said cover! Fortunately, I needn't have worried. Dark Harvest is a truly fantastic yarn for All Hallow's Eve.
Jon Foster's full artwork for the paperback!
The problem with doing a review like this is that I don't want to delve too deep into spoiler territory, as half the enjoyment of the book is seeing the whole plot unfold, and the twists it takes along the way. The basic plot is that a small, sleepy mid-western town has a legend called The October Boy, and his presence ties into some dark secrets that the town itself harbors. Partridge's prose is absolutely stunning, painting broad pictures that really come alive, all the while using an incredibly converstational style that makes you feel like you're along for the ride with all of these characters. The events of a cold, sinister Halloween in 1963 are played out for the reader as if they were a part of the story...and in a way, they are!
This is a novel where mystery is a huge component throughout, and this may be where some readers get a bit disgruntled. Not all of the enigmas presented here are explained, and many questions will linger with the reader after the final sentence is read. Now, personally, I loved this aspect of the story.Partridge gives just enough clues for the reader to piece together in their imagination what they think this is all about, but doesn't spoon-feed them the answer. Some prominent secrets are revealed, but others are left deliberately obscured in the darkness that blankets this small community.
The October Boy himself is one HELL of a great creation, and I cannot help but love the very idea of this creature. He is a true classic, tragic monster in every sense. In fact, I discovered that there is quite a bit of fan art of this great creation:
by Simon Breeze
by Mr. Dinks
I really don't want to say much more about this book, because you really should go into it without a whole lot of preconceptions. It's just a fantastic, spooky story. Not so much outright horror, as a great, atmospheric tale to get you in the mood for the Witching Season.