In 1811 a comet streaks across the sky, bringing lasting darkness and hideous monsters that terrorize a young Native American boy, Chua, and the group of people with whom he seeks safety: John Coulter, famed hunter and original mountain main; a Native American woman named Kima on her way to her wedding in ill fated Prophetstown; an escaped slave named Smith.
The novella opens with a bang, detailing Chua’s escape from a gore riddled battlefield and some inventive monsters. The description of these beasts foreshadows the horrors to come, and sets up the horror from beyond the stars theme that firmly sets Harvest Nights in Lovecraftian territory.
For such a short book, Harvest Nights includes a lot of serious themes. Apart from the real people and events mentioned, the treatment of Native Americans by the colonists is a steady thread throughout the story, as is slavery and the inhuman treatment of slaves. The insatiable hunger of the creatures from another dimension nicely mirrors humanity’s greed, and it is a theme the author could have teased out for greater impact.
While I liked the use of Native American folklore, I wish the author had done more with it.
There is a lot to like in this story, and the horror elements are certainly pleasing to any fan of the genre, however I longed for more description so that I could fully visualize each scene. I found the language often heavy and clunky and it distanced me from immersion in the plot, from getting a feel for the characters, for feeling any subtly to do with the complex themes, and from the horror.
As it stands, Harvest Nights is an enjoyable diversion that reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing crossed with 28 Days Later.
I award Harvest Nights…
Thank you to the author for providing me with an advance review copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.