It doesn't really matter if it's Halloween or not, as a good Halloween tale is a welcome read year round. Still, the menacing and tragic tones struck by Norman Partridge's short novel, Dark Harvest, would have been a great book to sit down with on October 31st.
Originally published in 2006 by Cemetery Dance, Tor Books re-released in October of last year, and it's a good thing they did otherwise I might have had to wait a whole lot longer tor read it. And I don't know who did the cover art, but it is pitch perfect.
The story is told in a present-tense second person point-of-view, which is not a writing style I've come across all that often. Hardly at all, if I'm to be honest. It serves the tone of the story though, with a kind of Rod Serling vibe to it that makes it all the more delicious, in my opinion. It's Halloween during the early 60s in a small Midwestern town, and Pete McCormick has been locked in his room with nothing to eat for five days--just like every teenage boy in town. But why?
Maybe it has something to do with the October Boy, a monster born from the pumpkin patch outside of town that stalks the streets on All Hallows Eve, and can only be destroyed by one of those boys lest something even worse befalls the town. And Pete McCormick aims to do something his alcoholic father couldn't do back when he was his age.
For a book that is less than 200 pages long, the focus shifts from character to character a lot. That's one of the luxuries of having an omnipresent narrator, and it is executed very well with quite a few characters afforded a lot more development than I had initially expected. The book is fast paced, starting with the creation of the October Boy--literally carved from a pumpkin by one of the townsfolk--and moving between the monster's path, to Pete's, to even the malevolent sheriff racing around town trying to keep all those boys from breaking the rules the town has set.
It would be easy to dismiss this as a run-of-the-mill monster tale, but only if you've never read it. There's a lot more meat on the bone than the Run (the name of the macabre game the boys must play). It's scary and suspenseful, and you're not going to put it all together until the final pages. While I might recommend you pick this up when Halloween next rolls around, but why wait? Just go read it now.