- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (September 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780765319111
- ISBN-13: 978-0765319111
- ASIN: 076531911X
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 108 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dark Harvest Paperback – September 4, 2007
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*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
“Probably the most exciting and original voice in horror literature to have appeared in the last decade.” ―Peter Straub
“A major new talent.” ―Stephen King
“This is contemporary American writing at its finest.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Dark Harvest
“Already [Dark Harvest] has the aura of a classic. Required reading for Halloween.” ―Booklist
“If you're looking for a scary Halloween tale, with lots of blood and gore--and candy--you've come to the right place.” ―Rocky Mountain News on Dark Harvest
“Using a quick, lean prose reminiscent of the finest Gold Medal-era fiction and, at the same time, as fresh as a Quentin Tarantino film, Partridge packs more into this slim volume than most authors do in a bloated 600-page epic.” ―The Austin Chronicle on Dark Harvest
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I'm not sure what winning the Bram Stoker award signifies. Is this a reflection of what passes for the best in horror fiction these days? Is this another sign of the insular nature of fiction "awards"? Is everything written just shooting for multi-volume junior adult novel series or another Netflix original to fill programming space?
I would recommend this book to late adolescent boys. It has a lot to say about what it truly means to be a man, or in the story, a hero. While this is a very good read for Halloween, I find that it has so much more to offer on a literary level. It is an excellent, multi-dimensional story that I'm glad that I happened upon. This is a really quick read, and can be finished in a couple hours by most adults.
Also note that this book is quite violent. If you are getting this book for a child be aware of this. Some of the violence is a little bittersweet. For example Sawtooth Jack has innards made of candy, so imagine a description of a violent act, but instead of blood and guts, there's masses of caramel and candy spilling out. There is traditional violence as well. Most of it is relatively PG-13 in my opinion, and very well-done at that.
It's the end of October. Halloween night. The world feels pulled tight at the edges. Like a thin flap of skin stretched over something that wants to get out. Something bad. Things feel thinner this time of year, and of course...you know. You've done this before.
It's Halloween. A time for stories about monsters that go bump in the night and nightmares that leave cold sweats in their wake. You've been here. Did this last year. So you know what to expect. It's Halloween, after all. Monsters are monsters and good guys are just that, ready to put down the monsters or die trying, which they so often do.
Except you don't know.
You haven't been here before.
Because this is Dark Harvest.
By Norman Partridge. So it's not the same as before. Not at all.
It's completely different. From everything you know.
Dark Harvest is simply the most original Halloween tale you're going to find this year. It's time for the October Boy to rise into unnatural life. Time for every sixteen year old boy in town to brave the Run. Deprived of food and locked in their rooms for days, these boys hunger for fame and fortune and violence all that comes with slaying the October Boy.
Thing is, Peter McCormick wants none of that. Maybe he's got an uncommon imagination, can dream of life past this place. Maybe he's just different. Anyway, he's got a few surprises in store for the October Boy and this town. If he's got to play the game, he's going to play it different. His way. And that's just fine.
Because tonight the October Boy's got a few surprises of his own. Things are going to change, and nothing's going to be the same here. Ever again.
People talk often in horror reviews about an author having "a unique voice". Usually that's a cover for poor craft and style...but this is the real deal. Stylistically speaking, Dark Harvest is one of the most finely crafted novels I've read in years. It manages to blend a first, second, and third person present tense narrative into seamless storytelling perfection. And, along the way it's simply a great story, with some unexpected heroism to boot. This is the new standard Halloween stories should be judged by. Pick it up in time for Halloween. You won't be disappointed.