Today we wrap up “Ten Essential October Reads” with a book that shot to the top of the list the very first time I read it. I’ll let my original write-up tell you why. But before we get to it, I’d like to invite you back next week for the follow-up series, which will lead us straight into Halloween: “Ten Essential October Comics.” Look for the first entry on Monday. In the meantime, feel free to share your own Essential October Reads in the comments of this or any entry in the series.
October is here, and with it comes Ten Essential October Reads. With the countdown to Halloween ticking away, there’s no better time to look at some books that really capture the spirit of the holiday, whether it’s the childhood traditions of trick-or-treating and playing pranks, the essence of a cool autumn day, or the dark things that scurry through the shadows. Throughout the month, I’ll be spotlighting ten books or stories that I think capture the magic of the season.
1. Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
Norman Partridge wrote a certified horror/Halloween classic when he set Dark Harvest to paper. I could end this article here and feel I’d said all I need to say, but I understand I need to explain at least a little why I feel this relatively new tale stands head and shoulders with classics from Bradbury and King.
So here are some things Dark Harvest has going for it: The October Boy, a/k/a Sawtooth Jack. A small town. A bloody ritual carried out every Halloween night. Deep, dark secrets. Baseball bats, butcher knives and blood. The hunger for escape. And writing like this:
It’s Halloween, 1963…and getting on toward dark. Things are the same as they’ve always been. There’s the main street, the old brick church in the town square, the movie theater – this year with a Vincent Price double-bill. And past all that is the road that leads out of town. It’s black as a licorice whip under an October sky, black as the night that’s coming and the long winter nights that will follow, black as the little town it leaves behind.
Just chew on that for a minute, and tell me you don’t want to know more about that town, and that road that leads out of it.
Well, I’m not going to tell you anything else. You need to discover it on your own. So head out the door and hunt it down. That’s what the boys in this little town are about to do – go hunting. But be careful…it’s Hallowen night…and the thing they call October Boy just dropped to the ground.
Previously in the Series:
Ten Essential October Reads: October Dreams and Pet Semetary
Ten Essential October Reads: Ray Bradbury
Ten Essential October Reads: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and “October in the Chair”
Ten Essential October Reads: The “Orangefield Cycle”
Ten Essential October Reads: Halloween and Trick or Treat