Dark Harvest unleashes authentic tragic terror on Halloween.
Dark Harvest is a supernatural coming-of-age horror slasher that is centered around Halloween. The writing style, technique and storytelling result in an authentic voice and a unique read. It’s a shorter story, a novella, but very sweet with the much needed horror, tension, and mystery, that also serves as great symbolism for choosing your own path. It’s a thrilling adventure that reels you in very quickly, especially when it all takes place at Halloween night. With a great new monster called October Boy, Dark Harvest will make a perfect read for Halloween, or when you long for the spooky holidays.
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It’s 1963 and the night of Halloween is coming for Pete McCormick and his other male peers who are between the ages of 16 and 18. It’s the night that October Boy comes to life and picks his victims. There’s no trick or treating, no candy, but the hunt for October Boy is about to begin, when The Run starts. The one who manages to kill October Boy gets a reward, a free ticket out of town. This year Pete has turned 16 and he can join in the Run. But before the Run starts these boys are locked up for five days in their rooms, without food, to be released the night of Halloween. Pete is given a butchers knife to kill October Boy with, but when the night falls, Pete is to find out what this special tradition entails and that proves to be more sinister than he could have ever imagined.
Why you should read it
Dark Harvest is a unique read. The way the story is told, written down and the technique that is used makes this story extra special. The story is written in the present tense, from the writer’s perspective, but he addresses the reader directly, which results in a very uncommon way of storytelling in a book. It therefore feels like a bonfire story that someone is telling you or a group of people. It’s a matter of taste if you like this kind of style. It certainly is very refreshing and it causes the reader to be more involved in the story and with Pete. Norman Partridge even acts as if we, the reader, ourselves have grown up in this strange little town and know all about it. This perspective and way of telling is very original.
The story is also written from several perspectives. We follow Pete, of course, but we also join in with the adventures of another boy named Mitch. This way we get a full view of what is happening in the town this Halloween night. But the most interesting point of view is that of October Boy himself. His thoughts, actions and motives are what makes this story even more compelling and show us that it isn’t a mere monster. The truth behind October Boy is cruel, sinister and heartbreaking. And maybe October Boy isn’t the real villain of the story.
It’s also a very unconventional coming-of-age story about being stuck in a town you don’t want to be in and with its tradition you don’t agree with. It’s about escaping the fate that is decided for you, and about choosing your own path. It also feels very much like a folk horror. A secluded town, with its own sinister traditions and rules, that leads to either falling in line or being killed, where people don’t know any better anymore and form which there seems no escape. With a sacrifice as the only outcome. Luckily this is a coming-of-age about a main character, and that means his life is ahead of him. But not for everyone.
These perspectives make this story feel more intimate and therefore more dire. The kills are also brutal and the truth behind it makes it more harsh. These kills are combined with an atmosphere of mystery, excitement, anticipation, and feels like a rollercoaster adventure when Pete has found out what is happening and why. The structure is well-chosen and starts out with a mystery, with excitement and then it turns into a nightmare for Pete until he decides to step up. When he gets help from Kelly Haines, a tough, brave girl, the story gets even more thrilling and with fast pacing, you want to read it till it is finished and hopefully everybody made it out alive.
My favorite part
Every bit of this book is evenly great. It is a delightful story with two great likable characters. It combines coming-of-age, mystery, horror and adventure and it’s short enough to read it in one go. It’s also written in a thrilling way so that you can’t put the book aside. You want to know how it ends. Even more when Pete meets Kelly and they work together to end this horrible tradition. I also loved the writing style that felt really unique.
A favorite quote
‘The thing they call the October Boy drops to the ground. … But you already know about him. After all, you grew up here. There aren’t any secrets left for you. You know the story as well as I do. Pete McCormick knows the story too… part of it anyway.’
Thrill factor: ★★★★★
Scare factor: ★★★★☆
Gruesome factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Dark Harvest is written by Norman Partridge and first published in 2007. It consists of 176 pages.