Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dark Harvest, by Norman Partridge

Dark Harvest
Norman Partridge
Cemetery Dance: 2006

Holy Shit! I knew Dark Harvest was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the Novella category, but I certainly did not expect it to be this outstanding! Midway through the novel(la) I wanted to pick up the book, wave it around, throw it at people and insist that they read it right this very moment, even before I had a chance to finish it.

Here's the deal. It's 1963 in a small Midwestern town. Doesn't matter which one. They're all the same, except this: Five days before Halloween all the boys between 16 and 19 are locked in their rooms. Five days. They are fed nothing but orange juice. The older boys knows what is coming. For the sixteen year olds all they know are the stories, the legend:
You can't really blame him, can you? I mean, think about it. Remember when you were a little kid, the first time you noticed your older brother locked up tight five days and nights during the last week of October? Remember the first time you heard that the whole deal had something to do with a pumpkin-headed scarecrow that runs around on Halloween night? It wasn't exactly easy to believe that one no matter how scare you were, was it?

Not until you experienced it yourself, of course.

Until you were the guy locked up in your bedroom.
Hot damn! The narration here is reminiscent of a Joe Lansdale or Stephen King at his leanest and meanest best. It's all Partridge. He's not telling a story, he's driving it home to your living room and making you live it, feel it.

This may be a Halloween story and one which should be read with the lights turned low as the clock is about to strike midnight, but it's a chilling damn story any time of the year. Dark Harvest weaves a couple of viewpoints together in this suspenseful and World Fantasy Award nominated novella.

Dark Harvest is an outstanding publication, a tight, explosive story laced with violence and fear and small town ways. Dark Harvest is filled with horror and regret, secrets and lies.

Thank goodness Dark Harvest picked up the World Fantasy Award nomination. Otherwise, I would likely have missed it and my reading would have been the poorer for it. Not often do I read something and wish like hell I wrote it. I bet a lot of professional ad published writers read Dark Harvest and thought the same thing.

Read it. Now.


Aaron Wilson said...

Okay. I'll read it! : ) It does look good.

Joe said...

Very good. I need to read three of the other nominated novellas, but over Botch Town this one is definitely my choice. Not even close.