One of the main tropes of horror fiction is Halloween. There is a lot to explore in just that one holiday that countless books and stories have already been written and there are still more to be offered. It is also a trope that, if done well, can set a writer apart from all other horror writers. Dark Harvest is that kind of book.
Starting right off in second person point-of-view, you are instantly unsettled. It is a artful choice considering the story Partridge paints with his succinct and immersive writing style. A story were sons are told to hunt down a a town sacrificial lamb every year in the hopes of freedom from the isolation in the cornfields and to make their families’ lives comfortable till they die. These boys are half starved and pushed by family, friends, and even themselves to win and are let loose in a fervor. Uncomfortibility is key to this story and that is what the second person point-of-view can invoke in the ready and pull the reader deeper into the story.
Partridge also does a great job at finding ways of mixing the history of Halloween and the current view of Halloween into a new idea that makes the day more eerie once you finish this book. When a writer can make candy seem innocent, yet malicious at the same time, you begin to understand the power of horror fiction and what it’s crafters can do.
While the bulk idea of the story is violent one, and while there are some gruesome moments, it is never takes away from the unraveling hard-boil mystery that is the true momentum. Couple it with excellent control of information and rich characters, you have find even the most violent moments powerful in the discovery in the characters sense of self and strength when the world seems to be closing in ready to swallow them whole.
At only 169 pages, it is one of the shorter novels you are going to find printed in recent years. But even being short, it has as much, if not more, richness and detail as a regular length novel. Nothing is rushed, not a word wasted. It is pure, great, horror writing.
While rated Intermediate, I would still consider this a great book for those beginning or early in their exposure to Horror fiction. Everything that Horror is is done exceptionally in this book.
Horror Reading Level: Intermediate