Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book Recomendation: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest is one of those books that, as a fledgling writer, I wish I had penned.

The prose is lean, mean, and to the point. You strap yourself into this book, and it doesn't let up for the next 176 pages. Best described as dark fantasy rather than horror (I never had a sense of dread while reading), the book is witty, intelligent, adrenaline pumping. Publisher's Weekly called it "contemporary American writing at its finest".

So I give it 4/5 stars.

Only 4/5, you say? What happened?

Yeah. I wish I would have written this book. I would love to write prose like this. Dark Harvest is a great read. In my humble opinion, however, 5/5 is reserved for classics. Books that really plumb the unknown depths. Books that I want to read again because I know there is more I haven't quite understood. Books that speak to something much bigger than the paper they are printed on...something eternal in the human condition. Books that make a reader say, "wow, that was sooooo much better than the movie". Dark Harvest read like a movie.

Dark Harvest was a great ride, but one that was over too quickly (or took too long depending on your point of view--frankly, it read like an inflated short story). Once the book is done, the reader is done. It didn't pierce that primal place in my brain that say, Some of Your Blood did recently or Till We Have Faces did for me ten years ago. I'll definitely pass this along to some of my students, but I doubt I'll read it again.

A 4/5 from this curmudgeon is a very fine rating. Fans of dark fantasy/light horror should read this book without hesitation.


Jamie Eyberg said...

I am so glad I read everyone's blogs. I get so many new books I want to buy that my wife is going to beat me one of these days.

Catherine J Gardner said...

I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but that is one mighty fine cover.

katey said...

I'm with Cate, that is one awesome cover. I was admiring it over in your sidebar just the other day.

My ratings system goes about things in a similar way. Five star means classic, top shelf of all time. Four star is brilliant. Three star enjoyable and worth the money. Etc. It's only sensible! (Well, until we get six stars... I guess that'd be the book version of "going to eleven".)

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - (sorry)

Cate - the cover doesn't hurt, does it?

Katey - love it. I can't wait to give a book a "6/5" some day

BT said...

From your explanation of why only a 4, it seems you almost want to give it a 3 and a half.

I gave Clive Barker's Books of Blood V 1-3 four out of five stars because it is simply brilliant. To gain 5 a book would need to be perfect, something extremely difficult to get.

Jackson's Haunting of Hill House gets a three and a half from me, and only because the prose is simply wonderful in its cadence to the effect it carries the reader along. The story is only worth a three.

I wonder where that would put Dark Harvest on my marking scale?

As for a published book which I as a fledgling writer wish I had penned - aren't they all?

"Some of your blood" and "Till we have Faces" sound cool though. I'll add those to my to-buy list.

Aaron Polson said...

BT - I do double duty with these reviews and post them on Amazon. Good ol' Amazon won't let me go 3.5.

I think my biggest disappointment with this one was that when it was done, so was I. I always love it when a book makes me want more.

Jameson T. Caine said...

I see I'm not the only one who was admiring the cover over the last few days.

I tend to be rather simplistic when reviewing a book. It falls into one of four categories: loved it, liked it, meh and didn't like it.

Robert said...

I read this awhile back and remember liking it but not loving it. And I think it's because it was so hyped at the time -- won a few awards and Publishers Weekly named it one of the best books of the year. So of course my expectations were high, which might not have been fair. Will probably try to read it again some time, no doubt around Halloween ...