Dark Harvest – Norman Partridge

Peter Straub, a writer I have admired for several decades said that Norman Partridge  is “probably the most exciting and original voice in horror literature to have appeared in the last decade.”  Coming from the man who wrote Floating Dragon and Ghost Story, two books I read with the lights totally on, this is high praise.

An unnamed Midwestern town is cursed. Every Halloween the October Boy (or Ol’ Hacksaw Face or Sawtooth Jack) rises from the cornfields and heads to town where all the eligible teenage boys try to kill him. They’ve been denied food for the past few days and the October Boy has a gut full of candy.  This year, Pete McCormick is one of those boys. He’s had a rough few months: his mother has died of cancer, his father’s grief led him to the bottle and that led to the unemployment line. Killing the October Boy is Pete’s way out of town because that’s what the prize is: a way out of the one-horse town he lives in and free everything for his dad and little sister.

What Pete doesn’t know is that the October Boy is on a quest, too. He has to make it to the church by midnight and so he’s every bit as determined as Pete. Neither of them know the town’s dark history or its secrets, though.

I liked Dark Harvest. Was it the scariest book I’ve ever read? Uh, no. It was unusual, though. Creative. And strangely, I sort of felt myself rooting (no pun intended – but you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean) for both Pete and the October Boy. It’s a short book, you could read it in a couple hours if you were so inclined. Save it for Halloween night.

 

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