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Dark Harvest Paperback – Bargain Price, September 4, 2007

4 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, September 4, 2007
$12.30 $2.66

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of this mesmerizing new fantasy from Partridge (Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales), it's Halloween night in 1963 in Anytown, U.S.A., and the local teenage boys are ramping up for the annual hunt for the October Boy, a pumpkin-headed being cultivated by the town fathers to run the gauntlet each All Hallows' Eve. The boy who brings him down before he makes it to the local church wins a highly coveted ticket out of town and, as most believe, liberation from the stultifying ennui of small-town life that has crushed all ambition and dreams out of the adults. Pete McCormack is among the most determined boys on the hunt, but this evening he will learn horrifying truths about his town's tradition and the terrible price he must pay for his manhood. Partridge has always had a knack for sifting deeper significance from period pop culture, but here he brilliantly distills a convincing male identity myth from teen rebel drive-in flicks, garish comic book horrors, hard-boiled crime pulps and other bits of lowbrow Americana. Whether read as potent dark fantasy or a modern coming-of-age parable, this is contemporary American writing at its finest. (Oct. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Only six years have passed since this Bram Stoker Award–winning novel was published and already it has the aura of a classic. Though the story takes place in 1963, the lack of specifics makes it timeless, and from the opening words, Partridge’s dire campfire tale feels like it’s been around forever: “A Midwestern town. You know its name. You were born there.” Each Halloween, as is tradition in this Everytown, U.S.A., able-bodied teen boys are let loose into the night with crude weapons to chase down the October Boy (aka Ol’ Hacksaw Face or Sawtooth Jack), a “reaper that grows in the field, the merciless trick with a heart made of treats.” He’s a candy-stuffed scarecrow bodied with writhing vines and topped with a jack-o’-lantern head, and if he’s not killed before midnight, the town, in some indescribable way, will end. But this year the truth of the October Boy’s annual regenesis is uncovered by young Pete, whose blood-spattered night takes a turn different than any in the ritual’s storied history. Partridge drops us in the middle of a cornfield crackling with rural madness, and readers won’t pause to question silly things like logic or reason. Instead they will float along with the dreamy present-tense voice; succumb to the autumnal, sensory details (the October Boy smells like “scorched cinnamon, and gunpowder, and melted wax”); and root for Pete despite the feeling that nothing truly good can result from his success. Required reading for Halloween—unless you’d like to incur the wrath of Sawtooth Jack? --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076531911X
  • ASIN: B001PO69W8
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,221,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many years ago, I read a story called "Johnny Halloween" in Cemetery Dance magazine. It was a stark, hard boiled, noirish horror story set around Halloween. Look it up if you can find it. It cemented Partridge in my mind as one of the best horror writers out there. Ten years ago, his novel "Slippin' Into Darkness" hit another home run with its vivid descriptions of flawed characters that you might not have really liked but still cared for in a weird, voyeristic way. It was also pretty stark, and very well told. After that, I lost track of him. Now, I'll be looking up everything he's published between then and now, because "Dark Harvest" is one of the best Halloween books you'll read this year (or any other.)

Released in a signed limited edition as part of Cemetery Dance's 2006 Halloween line, "Dark Harvest" has been chosen by Publisher's Weekly as one of the year's best. How rare is it that a small press book gets this kind of recognition? Read it, and you'll find out why.

Partridge has created sympathetic characters that could very well be people you know. The story centers around a small town with secrets that has a Halloween ritual every year where the teenage boys are locked in their rooms without food for five days and unleashed in the town on Halloween night with the mission to find and kill the October Boy. The person who kills him will be given a free ride out of the city and his parents will be rewarded by the town. Every year this plays out, every year another winner. As the secrets of the town and the origin of the October Boy are revealed, it is appearant that nothing in this place is what it seems. A young boy and girl figure this out, and do what they can to escape.

The book is short, but Partridge tells you everything you need to know.
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Format: Paperback
I have been anxious to read Norman Partridge for some time now, and DARK HARVEST was a great introduction to the author. This book takes no prisoners and will punch your ticket from the get-go.

As the reader, you get the impression from the book description that you're going to be set for a rather typical good vs. evil, boy vs. monster plot scenario. But what Partridge delivers is so much more and so much different than your average horror novel. This is the tale of the scarecrow creature known as the October Boy. Upon his resurrection each Halloween, the small town's teenage boys compete for the honor of being the first one to destroy old Sawtooth Jack. Because if a boy is crowned the winner of the "Run", it's his ticket out of town. In fact, it's the only way anyone ever escapes the cornfields and the never ending nothingness of this particular midwest 'burg. Pete McCormick is 16 years old, and he is determined to be this year's winner of the Run. He wants out of town, and the only way to get his wish is to stop the October Boy from making it to the town square church before midnight.

However, Partridge's trick along the way is a clever story twist to keep the reader guessing about who the victims really are and who the monsters really are. What is the history behind this macabre tradition that has the farm folk running rabid every Halloween night? Partridge does a wonderful job of setting you up for one type of story, then stopping you in your tracks, and finally putting his own unique spin on the plot flow to really keep you guessing. His pacing and prose are both switch-blade sharp and will take you for a ride like few other authors can.

When I read DARK HARVEST, it reminded me of another novel by Joe R.
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Format: Hardcover
Norman Partridge shuns the modern world in Dark Harvest, instead choosing to focus on what many consider a more "innocent' time. Here's how the novella begins:

A Midwestern town. You know its name. You were born there.

It's Halloween, 1963 . . . and getting on towards dark.

Partridge follows these moody opening lines with a Bradburyesque description of the unnamed town (delivered by an omniscient narrator), evoking the likes of Sherwood Anderson and Thornton Wilder even as he veers off into edgier territory by introducing the Pumpkin Boy, a.k.a. Sawtooth Jack, a.k.a. Hacksaw Face. The Pumpkin Boy is a pumpkin-headed effigy (shades of Sleepy Hollow!) who stands guard over the town's crops; on Halloween, he comes to life to run a gauntlet of the town's young men, all out to destroy him. The gauntlet is an annual ritual, the result of an ancient pact between the town and a greater power, still honored even though most don't recall its original purpose. So far, the Pumpkin Boy has never successfully reached his goal, a church in the middle of town; he has always been stopped (read destroyed) by one of the town's young men, who win a one-way ticket out of the remote hamlet. The majority of the action is seen through the eyes of the Pumpkin Boy, and Pete McCormick, a young man desperate in his desire to escape the town's environs. Their adventures on this particular Halloween night reveal the horror beneath the calm, respectable façade of the unnamed town, uncovering secrets that threaten to destroy it.

It seems significant that Partridge set the novel in October 1963, only weeks before America was shocked by the assassination of John F.
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