Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: Harvest Night by D. A Madigan

Life is good in Redhaven -- taxes are low, schools are safe, crime is nearly non-existent. People say 'hi' to each other when they pass on the street, everyone has a smile for everyone else, and people still leave their doors unlocked at night.

Except during Harvest Time. For the affluent local families who actually run this lovely little town, the days between Hallowe'en and Thanksgiving weekend are the most wonderful time of the year... it's time of celebration and festivity, when Redhaven honors and memorializes its three hundred year old traditions with quaint, old fashioned ceremonial events and revels.

And if a few houses in Redhaven seem to mysteriously turn up empty at the end of Harvest Time every year, well, that's no problem at all. Nothing to worry about -- the Bank of Redhaven is always ready to extend low interest mortgages and business start up loans to any newcomers ready to settle down in this pleasant, friendly, comfortably old fashioned little town. Those houses never sit empty for very long... just as no one ever regrets moving to Redhaven for very long, either...

There are two covers to this book, and we're going with the one I like more. Everything in this cover is eye-catching and will certainly grab my attention in a bookstore. The moon and the symbolism get visual top marks from me. The alternate cover, with a tree against the moon, feels like it's missing something, and that certainly isn't the case here.

As to the writing itself all I can say is......wow. 

This book pretty much hooked me from start to finish. In a very rare setting, we get to read about a whole town consisting of very evil people who are forbidden to kill each other until the titled 'Harvest Night' which happens once a year. Of course that isn't a guarantee that they won't break the rules every now and then. The idea of a neighbor that can smile and invite you over for bridge one night and then try to murder you the next is a very interesting topic, and perhaps would be interesting enough by itself. But there are a few other topics in this book. Another one being the supernatural as most of the people in this town are occult worshipers. As soon as I read about the supernatural my first instinct was 'Noooo! It's overdone!', but D.A Madigan writes them in the perfect way-part of the backdrop, and not usually taking center stage until absolutely necessary, and even then he avoids the standard cliches.  

A note to the more gentle reader-this book is not for the squeamish. There are a lot of adult themes on this, particularly towards child abuse, which is also a third theme in Harvest Night. There is a point to the abuse happening in the town, but unfortunately that is also a slight criticism I have-due to the nature of the town it is pretty hard to find a likable good character in the town of Redhaven, and even then they are not really focused on until about the halfway mark. Until that point I did get a bit of 'reader fatigue' as I read about the people in the town going through the same history of abuse over and over again, until finally a glimmer of hope arrived. Given that this is a very long book (some 170,000 words) that could take a while. Fortunately the personal relationships between most of the characters kept me invested until then, particularly between Sharon and Randy, who are each fighting for control of the town.

FINAL GRADE: 4.5 out of 5. This is definitely a page turner. There are a lot of interesting characters and themes from start to finish. It is a tad hard to find a likeble character for a while, but there is a great conclusion in the end. Overall I would really recommend this book. 

Harvest Night can be found here. 
D.A Madigan's interview can be found here

1 comment:

DA Madigan said...

Just wanted to mention how HARVEST NIGHT came about -

This book is a melding of two ideas. The first was that I wanted to write a book that would be a tribute to Stephen King's SALEM'S LOT, one of my all time favorite stories. I chose to focus on the idea of a typical sleepy, pleasant seeming, all American small town, with a secret darkness beneath its facade. In this case, the 'secret darkness' was that the town's founding families had all been members of a devil worshipping, cannibal cult of serial killers, and that tradition continues to this day, unbeknownst to the majority of the town's 'gentile' residents... although nearly all of those residents are implicated in and corrupted by the town's evil, once they've been there a few years.

The second was a very specific idea I had, for a small town somewhere in the U.S.A. that was a sort of haven for relocated serial killers... that such people had their own, underground 'Witness Protection Program' that would spirit them off death row, provide them with new identities, and resettle them somewhere where no one would know who they truly were. The very specific concept was, here's this town where everyone in power -- the Mayor, the Town Council, all the government officials like Town Clerk, etc, and especially, the local police chief and all his or her officers -- would be relocated serial killers. They would have all been given plastic surgery, so no one would know who they really were... but essentially, the town would be run by wolves, preying on the sheep that made up its population.

Both of those ideas kind of churned around in my head and the result was HARVEST NIGHT -- the story of a town founded by evil predators, still run by those same evil predators hundreds of years later -- and where some members of that predatory cult have become famous as sociopathic killers, whom the cult has rescued from death rows all over the U.S. and relocated to that town, where they can hide in plain sight.