DARK HARVEST by Norman Partridge. Forest Hill, MD; CD Publications; 2006. 1st edition hardcover.
A Midwestern town. You know its name. You were born there.
It's Halloween night, 1963. Every boy between the ages of sixteen and nineteen has been locked up for the last five days. Now, starving and wild, they're hitting the streets armed with baseball bats, pitchforks, and two-by-fours studded with nails.
They're ready to go nose-to-nose with a legend. He's the reaper that grows in a cornfield, the merciless trick with a heart made of treats, the butchering nightmare with a Jack O' Lantern face. He's the October Boy, and he visits your town every Halloween, ready to run a gauntlet of young men anxious to carve his beating candy heart from his chest.
Mitch Crenshaw and his gang burn rubber in a street rod with Gorgon headlights…. Pete McCormick's on the move with a stolen .45… and a hunted girl is out there, too, making her break on the one night of the year when no rules apply. You're running with them, threading your own path through danger and moonlight, shadowing a sadistic cop and packs of brutal teenagers who'll attack anyone who gets in their way. Because this is your town. You understand its secrets, and you want a ringside seat on the night it all comes tumbling down.
Praise For the Book:
"At the start of this mesmerizing new fantasy from Partridge (Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales), it's Halloween night in 1963 in Anytown, U.S.A., and the local teenage boys are ramping up for the annual hunt for the October Boy, a pumpkin-headed being cultivated by the town fathers to run the gauntlet each All Hallows' Eve. The boy who brings him down before he makes it to the local church wins a highly coveted ticket out of town and, as most believe, liberation from the stultifying ennui of small-town life that has crushed all ambition and dreams out of the adults. Pete McCormack is among the most determined boys on the hunt, but this evening he will learn horrifying truths about his town's tradition and the terrible price he must pay for his manhood. Partridge has always had a knack for sifting deeper significance from period pop culture, but here he brilliantly distills a convincing male identity myth from teen rebel drive-in flicks, garish comic book horrors, hard-boiled crime pulps and other bits of lowbrow Americana. Whether read as potent dark fantasy or a modern coming-of-age parable, this is contemporary American writing at its finest."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Partridge is at his best when he combines graphic terror with teenage angst... No one evokes the nostalgia of growing up in the 1960s better... If you're looking for a scary Halloween tale, with lots of blood and gore—and candy—you've come to the right place."
—Rocky Mountain News
"Dark Harvest thrills with staccato scenes of action, ideal for a horror novel. Using a quick, lean prose reminiscent of the finest Gold Medal-era fiction and, at the same time, as fresh as a Quentin Tarantino film, Partridge packs more into this slim volume than most authors do in a bloated 600-page epic."
—The Austin Chronicle
"Dark Harvest is pure, beautiful blood-and-guts shoot-em-up, even if some of the guts are pumpkin. It's also a Halloween campfire tale that lingers in your ears and crawls down your dreams. It's also… The Gingerbread Boy? Breathlessly efficient, overrun with eerie imagery, and—at the least comforting moments—startlingly sweet."
—Glen Hirshberg, author of American Morons
"So what do you get when you plunk down your lucre for Dark Harvest? Listen up: you get a powerhouse thrillride with all the resonance of Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery.' You get a dark fantasy-hardboiled fusion that makes for the wildest hep-cat reading this side of Joe Lansdale. You get a pumpkin-headed scarecrow with a butcher knife (driving a Chrysler), a twisted town full of rampaging teenagers, and one seriously demented bad boy cop just itching to cap a few asses. You get a chop in the throat, a kick in the guts, a shot of whiskey and an icy cold beer to settle your head. What you get with Norm Partridge is simply the best."
—Tom Piccirilli, author of The Dead Letters and Headstone City
"What's the best, most badass Halloween horror movie ever made? It's the one that screened inside my head while reading Norm Partridge's astounding Dark Harvest.
It takes everything archetypal and cool about Halloween, guts it, hollows it out, stuffs it with small-town desperation and pre-hippie switchblade rock 'n' roll thunder, douses it all with leaded gasoline, and then propels it forward on language that periodically, almost casually explodes to lick the sky with fire.
In the process, Partridge has carved himself a classic slice of modern myth-making Americana. And my favorite holiday just got even weirder and cooler.
LONG LIVE THE OCTOBER BOY!"
—John Skipp, author of The Long Last Call
Issued in a limited edition of 2000 SIGNED (unnumbered) copies. Fine in fine dj.