Countdown: The Top 31 Norman Partridge Works of Short Fiction–#3

[For the previous countdown post, click here.]

 

3. “The Jack o’ Lantern: A Dark Harvest Tale” (2010)

This publication was a tremendous treat for Partridge fans, as the tale returned to the world of the author’s instant-classic Halloween novel Dark Harvest. The narrative, set a generation before the events of the novel, functions as a prequel, but the ever-inventive Partridge doesn’t just serve up a mere rehash. Yes, it’s a Halloween night, and another angry mob of teenage boys wielding pitchforks, ballbats, and machetes is attempting to halt the advance of the so-called “scarecrow monster,” the October Boy. But the jack o’ lantern of the title doesn’t refer to Ol’ Hacksaw Face’s grisly gourd, and there is violent mayhem afoot unrelated to the annual Run through the midwestern town. While the narrative here is self-contained, it also connects perfectly with Dark Harvest, forming the origin story for one of the novel’s main characters. “The Jack o’ Lantern,” with its shift to a prior year’s Halloween ritual, also demonstrates that there is room for further expansion of the Dark Harvest universe. Imagine a shared-world anthology (similar to what Lords of the Razor did for Joe R. Lansdale’s legendary character, the God of the Razor) featuring different Runs of the October Boy throughout the town’s shady history. Or better yet: how about a collaboration between Lansdale and Partridge in which the God of the Razor and Sawtooth Jack face off against one another? Now that would be one crackling yarn…

 

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