38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Something has crash landed into the Appalachian mountains, just above a tiny one-horse town named Windshake. Wounded and hungry, completely unaware of its surroundings, it begins to feed, needing strength to continue its journey.
Enter the town of Windshake. It's a quiet mountain town, only just beginning to be discovered by developers. It is typically populated with a thin veneer of middle class who overlay the larger collection of dirt poor white trash. Moonshine stills, logging roads, mountain cabins and trailer parks all combine to overcome any real influence from the nearby small University, where Tamara Leon teaches.
She had moved out of the city in order for her husband Robert to take a job at a local yokel radio station, the only job he could find. Bye-bye city life, hello Moose Lodge and Hog Calling. Tamara carries a heavier weight on her shoulders than just moving her family out into the sticks, for she suffers from what she calls "The Gloomies", which is nothing more than a form of ESP.
The second major character is Chester Mull, a crotchety mountain man who's day is filled by drinking moonshine on his porch with his ancient hound dog, at least until the mountain begins to glow a sickly green and his friend Oscar stumbles into his yard looking more plant than man.
Scott Nicholson has done an absolutely tremendous job with this novel, bringing the small town people into fully fleshed reality, and revealing Windshake as a place you can not only see but smell and taste and feel.
The Harvest is one of those stories that is about the entire town, with a few foremost characters leading the hunt for what ails their community. The usual problems seen with books like this are shallow characterizations, which you certainly won't find here. The sinful Preacher, the overly religious Parishioner who is falling for the church secretary, the white trash trailer park queen, the dope smoking teenagers, the fat and lazy sheriff, the excessively arrogant mayor, the successful moonshiner; all are completely introduced as individuals who you will love to hate, or hate to love.
Tamara and Chester make an unlikely team when finally they meet up, and with a couple of fellow believers they undertake the daunting task of destroying the creature that has extended its tendrils into their town.
There is something to be said for a joyfully entertaining, wildly unrealistic adventure into a nightmare landscape or horror and helplessness. Not every book is a work of art, and not every work of art is entertaining, so if you want a hoity-toity art book, go pick up a Tolstoy. But if what you are looking for is a roller-coaster ride filled with aliens, inhuman hunger, green guts, bizarre plants, gaping earth-mouths, and squishy things that go bump in the night, then grab a copy of The Harvest and settle in for the ride. Enjoy!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2010
This isn't your average "Alien menace" story. Scott Nicholson has a way with people, and it is people, and their hopes and fears, that drive the action here as a menace from the skies takes hold in the countryside around their town.
It's a tale of loss, of sacrifice, and of hope. The alien is suitably alien, and the people behave like real folks would in a crisis situation. Some run and hide. Others step up and find things in themselves they never suspected were there.
Nicholson does a fine job of bringing disparate folk together into a cohesive fighting unit, and it all builds to a nicely done climax.
Keep watching the skies.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Set in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Dr. Tamara Leon teaches down at Westridge. She has always had the "gift" of being clairvoyant. She called the darker feelings "the Gloomies". She lived in the little town of Windshake with her husband and two small children. Her marriage is a bit rocky, since her husband HATES hearing anything about the Gloomies. He did not believe in the mess at all. Yet the Gloomies were getting stronger lately. In fact, ever since the weird object fell from the heavens and landed somewhere in the mountains. Things and people began to change. Whatever landed in those mountains was growing and assaulting Tamara's mind in a psychic invasion.
Chester Mull KNEW something was going on! His dog has been turned inside-out, literally! People he used to call "friends" have drastically changed too. Their eyes glowed an eerie green and their skin seemed to be melting.
The zombies sought out other living beings to "convert". Their master, Shu-Shaaa, was hungry and must be fed. It was assimilating itself into the biosystem of the planet, slowing learning and eating everything. As it fed, it searched for the meaning of one set of syllables that seemed to nag at its core. The syllables called "Taa-maaa-raaa."
***** Stephen King and Dean Koontz fans need to sit up and take notice of this talented author. Scott Nicholson has created a new terror that will keep you up late into the night! (Don't say I did not warn you.) Nicholson seems to be destined for fame. Highly recommended reading! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
After reading Scott Nicholson's first mass-market novel, "The Red Church," I expressed a few minor complaints. I wrote in a review that I found several continuity errors that, while not detracting from the intriguing plot and impressive writing style, did mark Nicholson as a first time novelist. I am pleased to announce that such errors do not appear in "The Harvest," this author's 2003 sophomore effort. Dawn never breaks over the horizon at two divergent periods in time. People don't enter buildings more than once without leaving them in the first place. It's nice to see a technical problems cleared up. I know from my own writing experience, which is way less than anything this writer has had to deal with, that it's tough to work up a piece without errors slipping through the cracks. I've read and reread twenty or thirty page papers for school until my eyes are ready to melt and STILL see errors in them when the professor hands them back. I've even had other people proof my stuff and those little critters still sneak through. So let's give Scott Nicholson a round of applause for ferreting out the sort of incongruities found in "The Red Church."
"The Harvest," set in Windshake, North Carolina, is essentially a reworking of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" liberally soaked in moonshine. An alien creature crash lands up in the Appalachian Mountains, and begins to assimilate a whole cast of wacky, off beat characters. You've got college psychology professor Tamara Leon, a woman with a horrible talent for predicting the future. You've got her radio disc jockey husband Robert, whose flagging career places him at the microphone of Windshake's hick AM radio station. Then there's Chester Mull, an alcoholic hillbilly living up in the mountains with his mangy dog Boomer. His best friend is Herbert DeWalt, a wealthy real estate developer and ex-hippy who moved to the mountains in order to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life. Then there's the ultra religious Bill Lemly, a one time top athletic prospect and owner of a big lumberyard whose goal in life is to strike up a relationship with the pretty secretary at the local Baptist Church. I could go on and on with the characters, from the domineering mayor to a disgruntled black man named James to the seedy preacher at the Baptist Church, but the list would run on for pages. Let's just say there are characters aplenty to keep track of in this story.
This alien creature, whatever it is, doesn't think intelligent life exists on the planet earth. With nothing to bother its conscience, the being rapidly begins to spread its icky tendrils and spores over the countryside. Any living creature--plant, animal, or human--that comes in contact with the life form rapidly transmogrifies into shambling, green eyed monstrosities whose only purpose in life is to convert other living creatures into shambling, green eyed monstrosities before everything turns into a pile of steaming ooze. Apparently, this alien thrives on draining energy out of the environment, and in doing so it can manipulate humans under its influence. The only force standing in the way of the alien's domination and destruction of the globe is Tamara Leon and her mental powers, powers that she refers to as the Gloomies. Before too long, Leon hooks up with DeWalt and Chester Mull for the ultimate showdown with the glowing green abomination dwelling in a cave up in the mountains. The group better act fast if they wish to stop a catastrophe: Windshake is preparing to celebrate its annual festival, which means thousands of people from points beyond will be within easy reach of the creature.
After finishing "The Harvest," I was not as pleased as I thought I would be. The story is competently executed and at times engaging, but the book is derivative of so many other horror novels and films that I couldn't help but think of how many times I have seen this plot before. There is plenty that is good. Nicholson does deserve kudos for juggling so many major and minor characters. It's not an easy thing to successfully develop the number of actors found here in a book of less than 400 pages, but the author pulls it off and makes the whole process look simple. The book also delves quite frequently into humor through the Chester Mull character, a classic curmudgeon if there ever was one. His sarcastic thoughts and observations had me laughing myself sick. The best part of "The Harvest," however, is the writing style. I guess I forgot how effectively Nicholson puts pen to paper. The author's descriptive abilities and penchant for stream of consciousness prose is a breath of fresh air in the mass-market paperback field. If you appreciate good writing, you will probably enjoy this book.
Still, the derivative, unoriginal plot left me grousing as I closed the cover for the final time. I initially thought about giving the book three stars, but I think I'll bump the rating up to four. I think if Nicholson comes up with a unique idea, he will really hit all the right notes. Perhaps "The Manor," his most recent book set to coast onto my reading list in a few weeks, will fire on all cylinders. Until then, I need to remember the good things about "The Harvest": great writing, interesting and funny characters, and a horror story placed in a vivid southern atmosphere. These three elements should appeal to most horror fans. I hope Scott Nicholson keeps writing, as he's certain to hone his abilities to an irresistible edge in the near future.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2012
I bought this book based on the reviews and my recent interest in sci-fi. I'm usually really good at knowing too what I'll like, but sadly from the beginning this book was an epic failure. The character's were hard to follow because there were so many and so much bouncing around. I didn't connect with any of them on an intimate level. There were times that I would have to back track because I got so bored reading that I paid no attention to what I read. There were grammar errors throughout the book and it was so cheezy that I was at times embarrassed I was reading it.
I'm halfway through the book now and will not be finishing it. It's a complete waste of space in my brain that could be filled with much more entertaining fiction. Do yourself a favor and don't listen to the good reviews unless you are 12 or under because you will be thoroughly disappointed.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2006
Effective writing treats the reader with consideration and creates good feelings, too. The Harvest, by Scott Nicholson is the ideal example of how not to write a novel. This overly written, prosaic book is riddled with continuity errors, frustratingly bad dialog, pathetic clichés, and contains zero suspense. Ultraliberal clichés pop up around every corner from characters such as: the oppressed African-American, the evil capitalist, the fanatical Christian, and the feminist protagonist. Notwithstanding the notion that every southern, mountain dwelling person is a trailer park trash, Jerry Springer episode waiting to happen. To be candid, this prose is the prototype of cheese. It makes one ponder as to how it ever got published. Then again, it's usually not a good sign when a book is no longer in print, despite that fact that it's only three years old.
I'll save space by not dwelling too much on the synopsis, which has already been provided. The Harvest is your run-of-the-mill alien invasion story, with a ridiculous, southern twist. This book makes similar tales such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Tommyknockers appear to be literary legends. I have a conviction that I've always lived by, to always finish a novel through. I feel it's insulting to the author to grade a piece of work without getting "the whole story". The Harvest propelled me further than any novel before into breaking that sacred vow. Not to suggest that it's a tough read. We're not talking about Dickens or Melville here. The problem is it's riddled with basic grammar and usage errors. Organization and visual impact was apparently given the boot. The 350 plus pages could have easily been trimmed to the point of classifying this as a novella. Reading through this book was much like having to sit through a bad opening act where you don't want to be rude and walk out. Even the character names are downright silly: Tamara, Don Oscar, Sylvester, Shu-Shaaa. I've seen better character names derived from my high school creative writing class. And apparently Tamara, the protagonist, is subject to some sort of telepathic/psychic ability called the "Gloomies". It sounds like a name a six year old would come up with. Another annoying aspect about this novel is the character of Delwalt. The man constantly talks to himself is some sort of club meeting format, that's not only confusing but exasperatingly bad.
If I can deliver one optimistic note, it would be that The Harvest is the first novel that I've had the chance to read by Nicholson. I figure everyone is entitled to a "bad book" now and again. Even the great ones such as King, Koontz, Rice, etc. have had their share. That said, I will give one more of his books a try and see how everything pans out. However, I can not (in good conscience) recommend this novel to anyone. The only positive feeling I could conjure after reading The Harvest is that I'm glad I checked it out, vice buying it.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2004
First, a brief synopsis of the book. In the one page prologue, we learn that an alien organism, hungry and ready to feed, plunges through the atmosphere and lands in Appalachia. In the next 300 pages, we're introduced to a huge cast of uninteresting characters, along with their backstories and current lives, which form the basis of the numerous soap opera subplots that take up the bulk of the story. The only purpose the vast majority of the characters serve is to be converted into slow moving zombie plant people by other slow moving zombie plant people. Eventually in the remaining 80 pages, a few characters notice something strange is happening, and go find the lair of the alien. As they gather weapons to attack it, more characters don't realize they shouldn't let the slow moving, rotting, oozing, green eye glowing, zombie plant people get close enough to french kiss them, and are converted to zombie plant people. Finally, the story ends with a completely uninspired confrontation with the alien.
This book has numerous problems, but the primary one is the huge cast of characters. The back cover would lead you to believe that Tamara Leon is the protagonist of the story, and she does play a part in the final confrontation with the alien, but she isn't given much more attention that most of the other characters in the book. In fact, it's not clear until the last 80 pages of the book which characters will play the role of the protagonist. Perhaps a more talented author could have pulled it off, but devoting so many pages to the backstories and subplots of characters who are going to die was a big mistake. Cutting the number of characters and subplots in half and spending more time on the main characters would have made a vast improvement.
Then there's the plot. While we're slogging through all the subplots, we learn practically nothing of interest about the alien. Just the same tired theme, repeated again and again: the alien is hungry and the zombie plant people are one with it. Also, it's pretty clear early on in the story that the alien isn't really evil as the back cover trumpets. It's just misguided (and hungry, but I already mentioned that). And the gloomies (dark dreams and visions) that Tamara has are just lame. The main purpose they serve is to allow her to give some exposition about what's happening, but like every character in this book, she could have easily been written out of the story without much effort.
This is the first and last book I will read by this author.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2003
I took me a long time to read this novel. I'm not sure if it's because I've been busy lately or there wasn't enough to hold my interest. I tend to lean to the latter. Scott Nicholson has tried his best to throw as much as he could into The Harvest, and in fact he possibly threw in too much. There were too many characters and sub-plots, and honestly I felt that about 35% of this story could have been trimmed out. You may be thinking that would leave a pretty slim volume behind, and you'd be right. I found the characters for the most part mundane and aimless. Mr. Nicholson seems keenly interested in his cast. He describes them to excruciating detail which has little to do with advancing the plot, and reads more like filler than anything else. Another problem I had with the story were the endless writer's tricks. This novel is bristling with run-on sentences; so much so that it becomes irritating and distracting. One character carries on this awful, heavy-handed inner dialogue with himself that actually caused me to groan aloud. Some of the prose is so thick and unweildy I had to re-read many sentences just to make sure I was getting it. I read The Red Church, and although I found that novel promising, it would seem that the author is merely going to follow in the footsteps of such writers as Bently Little, Tom Piccirilli, Tamara Thorne and others who are practically interchangeable. In fact, if you were to tear the cover off many novels by authors such as these, I'd never be able to tell the difference.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2006
I have to admit, it took me two tries to finish this book. The first time I got bogged down in all the descriptions, cussing and cast. The second half was better than the first - once you make contact with the alien and feel its presence in the "zombies" it began to make more sense. It's not the worst book I've ever read, and I will definitely try at least one more book by this author, but I don't feel this is a good one to read first. (Also - is there anyone actually happy in this book? If there is, I didn't find them...)
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2011
I really enjoyed this book. I found myself thoroughly engaged with the characters. It brought out emotions that surprised me. Ending was very unexpected. Another good read!