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Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
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Dark Harvest

by Norman Partridge

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2281150,815 (3.93)1 / 23
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3.5
Every Halloween teenage boys of a weird little town go out at night and hunt the October Boy. Killing the Boy means a ticket from the town, but he hunts them in return.

This Halloween it is Pete McCormick's turn to participate in the Run. He is going to learn a lot more about the town than he expected.

If I had to describe this in one sentence it would be a heartbreaking horror story with a great ending. Perfect for this time of year. ( )
  Irena. | Nov 22, 2014 |
A small town's secrets (and sacrifices) are unearthed during its annual Halloween ritual.

The cornfields surrounding my house had just been plowed; Halloween was celebrated a few days before; the days were gloomy and overcast; the nights longer and colder - all in all, the perfect atmosphere for reading Dark Harvest.

I'll admit, in the opening pages of the story, I was a bit thrown off by the intermittent use of the second person ["That's not the way it works around here. You remember. Corn's harvested by hand in these parts (p.4)."] within the seemingly unlimited omniscient third person narrative, but that quirky style actually worked: I was pulled in closer, felt more involved in the story, as it progressed. Like I was sitting with the storyteller, in the middle of the woods, on opposite sides of a small bonfire.

Overall, I was reminded of "The Lottery" and The Hunger Games. A weird blend of the two, yet effective in its examination of conformity and apathy, especially in small town cultures. Or, one could read it simply as a fast-paced, somewhat gory Halloween tale about kids paying for the sins of their fathers. depending on how you interpret the reasons for the ritual.

Recommended to those who won't be too bothered by not having all the answers when the last page is turned. Dark Harvest is definitely more about the journey than the destination. ( )
  flying_monkeys | Nov 9, 2014 |
Every year the people of the town lock their boys aged sixteen to nineteen in their bedrooms for five days without food then let them loose on the night of Halloween for the Run. The October Boy, a living, breathing scarecrow stuffed with candy and topped by a jack-o-lantern head, will try to make it to the church by midnight. Whatever teenage boy stops him is the winner and is allowed past the Line to escape from town. Pete is determined to win this year, but not everything about the Run is as it at first appears.

This short book told in an urban legend/campfire ghost story style is basically an allegory for being a teenager in a small town. While those emotions are palpable in the story and the narration style is enjoyable, I felt that the book left too many unanswered questions. It simply did not feel complete. Similarly, I do not like the title. Why didn't Partridge call it The October Boy? That's a much better title.

Overall, this is a fun, quick horror story told in an intimate, urban legend style. Due to its themes, it will work best for teenagers, but adults who vividly remember those emotions will probably enjoy it as well.

Check out my full review: http://wp.me/pp7vL-AR ( )
  gaialover | Oct 12, 2011 |
I had no idea who Norman Partridge was when I picked up Dark Harvest. It was the cover that caught my eye (as so happens with books!). That image of a Jack o' Lantern-headed scarecrow, eyes and mouth glowing with an inner fire, making his way through a cornfield completely caught my imagination and I had to know what this story was about.

Reading Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest was a pleasant surprise. Well, not a pleasant surprise, since a story about a living scarecrow who is trying to make his way to the small town church before midnight on Halloween, while all the boys in the town, who have been locked up for five days with no food, are set loose to try and kill him... well, that story really can't be all that pleasant, now can it? However, what surprised me so much was how strongly I was pulled into this story.

Every Halloween in this small town in the middle of nowhere, the October Boy is raised from the cornfields and makes his way towards town. For the previous five days, all the boys from sixteen to nineteen have been locked up, with no food, awaiting their release out into the Run, hunting the October Boy before he can make his way to the church. Whoever kills the October Boy gets a free ride out of town, and his family are showered with gifts, a new house, no bills, for that entire following year, until the next Halloween comes around and the cycle starts all over again. Part of why I loved this book is that there is no explanation as to why things are this way in this unnamed town. Why is the October Boy raised every year? Why can't the residents leave, or why are they not allowed to leave town? What will happen if the October Boy actually reaches the church? What are the consequences of this? None of these questions are truly answered, simply hinted at, yet you don't doubt the importance of any of the actions of the townsfolk, or the October Boy. You simply accept that this is the way things are, and this is how the story has to unfold, and you carry on with the story. And not having to answer these questions is, at least to me, what makes Partridge such an impressive, new-to-me author.

The characters are sympathetic; they could be anyone that you know in any small town. The small town could be like any other small town in America. Yet, there is something evil and unsettling just under the surface, something that these people have come to understand and respect in their own way. You as the reader accept these things too, however unpleasant that they may be, and will keep reading to find out more. As the secrets of this small town start to unravel, you will feel even more sympathy for them, and yet find revulsion at the same time. And you'll still want more. This is a quick read, but one that will leave you wishing there were more to the story, wanting to know what happens next, what the ultimate fate of the October Boy and this small town will be.

I will definitely be on the look out for more by Norman Partridge. Recommended. ( )
1 vote tapestry100 | Oct 8, 2010 |
It's 1963. Halloween night in a small Midwestern town. Out in a barren field where a lone pumpkin grows into the old clothes of a scarecrow, a mysterious man carves a face into the pumpkin, stuffs the body with candy, and hands the knife to this new creature, watching as the October Boy shakily makes his way toward town with only one thought on his mind.

Meanwhile, the town's 16- and 17-year old boys, freed from their 5-day prisons without food, are let loose upon the town, their sole mission to stop the October Boy from reaching its destination. Whoever stops the October Boy has a free ticket out of town with his family earning all sorts of monies and distinctions. No one knows this better than Pete McCormick, whose drunk, deadbeat Father gave up on him and his sister years ago. Stopping the October Boy will free him from the prison his life has become in that small Midwestern town.

When Pete runs into Kelly Haines, the only girl running around this Halloween night, who should be inside away from the insanity that fuels the young men of the town, he learns some hard truths about the October Boy and the townsfolk who set the boys after him. And what he decides to do with that information will change the town forever.

The October Boy is supposed to be the evil creature, ready to hack and kill to get what he wants so I automatically distrust him. It's what I'm supposed to do. But author Norman Partridge surprises me with this story by tossing in an atypical twist or two, forcing me to figure out for myself just who the "bad guys" truly are. I enjoy that about this story, one that challenges me to see what's in front of me in a different light. And with touches resembling Ray Bradbury's "The Halloween Tree", the tale involves the reader, making him or her a character with a knowing wink as to what's really going on behind the scenes in the little town.

"Dark Harvest" offers a violent, bloody and horrific Halloween treat, fit for anyone who loves their horror with a twist. ( )
  ocgreg34 | May 29, 2010 |
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For Ed Gorman
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A Midwestern town. You know its name. You were born here.
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They call him the October Boy, or Ol' Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. Rising from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in hand, he makes his way towards town. Both the hunter and the hunted, he is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.… (more)

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