Norman Partridge's Halloween novel, Dark Harvest, was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books of 2006. A Bram Stoker Award winner and World Fantasy nominee, Partridge's rapid-fire tale of a small town trapped by its own shadows welcomed a wholly original creation, the October Boy, earning the author comparisons to Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson.
Now Partridge revisits Halloween with a collection featuring a half-dozen stories celebrating frights both past and present. In “The Jack o' Lantern,” a brand new Dark Harvest novelette, the October Boy races against a remorseless döppelganger bent on carving a deadly path through the town's annual ritual of death and rebirth. “Johnny Halloween” features a sheriff battling both a walking ghost and his own haunted conscience. In “Three Doors,” a scarred war hero hunts his past with the help of a magic prosthetic hand, while “Satan's Army” is a real Partridge rarity previously available only in a long sold-out lettered edition from another press.
But there's more to this holiday celebration besides fiction. “The Man Who Killed Halloween” is an extensive essay about growing up during the late sixties in the town where the Zodiac Killer began his murderous spree. In an introduction that explores monsters both fictional and real, Partridge recalls what it was like to live in a community menaced by a serial killer and examines how the Zodiac's reign of terror shaped him as a writer.
Halloween night awaits. Join a master storyteller as he explores the layers of darkness that separate all-too-human evil from the supernatural. Let Norman Partridge lead you on seven journeys through the most dangerous night of the year, where no one is safe…and everyone is suspect.
Stoker winner Partridge (Dark Harvest) displays his superior prose skills in this collection of six short stories set around Halloween. The title tale is replete with twists that are both surprising and logical as a sheriff's complex past is revived when he responds to a fatal liquor store holdup. "Satan's Army" is a bit more heavy-handed, as religious zealots who believe The Wizard of Oz is satanic go to extreme measures to make their point. The high point is "The Jack o' Lantern," set in the Dark Harvest universe and featuring a hunt for the October Boy, a pumpkin-headed creature who terrorizes an unnamed American town. This deft blend of horror, fantasy, and noir will leave readers hoping for a longer return to that mythos. The only weak point is an essay about the Zodiac Killer, "The Man Who Killed Halloween," which lacks the length needed for real terror.