Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
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 reads like a campfire story. I kept finding myself wishing I was huddled up around a campfire reading it out loud to my friends. The narration style is decidedly written that style. The style of a whispered urban legend or a campfire ghost story.
I don’t know what possessed Partridge to name this book Dark Harvest, when while I was reading it I definitely thought of it as The October Boy. Plus, Dark Harvest is a common name whereas The October Boy is not. The title is definitely one of the weakest points of the book.
Basically this story is an allegory for every teenager who ever felt trapped in a small town.
You remember how it feels, don’t you? All that desire scorching you straight through. Feeling like you’re penned up in a small-town cage, jailed by cornstalk bars. Knowing, just knowing, that you’ll be stuck in that quiet little town forever if you don’t take a chance. (page 41)
That desire and drive as a teenager to get the heck out of dodge is palpable in the book. Similarly, the disillusionment as you realize as a teenager that adults are not perfect and do not know it all and maybe even lied to you. It’s a nice allegory for both of those emotions, but it is not a perfect one.
I felt too many questions were left unanswered at the end of the book. Perhaps that wouldn’t bother some readers, but it bothered me. There’s this huge mystery of The October Boy, but while we get some answers, we are left with some questions hanging. I was hoping for more from this book.
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.
3 out of 5 stars
Source: Better World Books