I’m not sure how I’ve written World’s Strongest Librarian for this long and not given one of Thomas Tryon’s novels a full review. Time to remedy that. My favorite by far in his books so far is the truly creepy story Harvest Home. Most of its themes–and even some of it scenes–will be familiar to anyone who has read much horror.
It reminded me of Children of The Corn, the original film of The Wicker Man, many of HP Lovecraft’s forbidden knowledge stories, and pretty much every other scary story featuring a weird little town full of people who abide by “The old ways.”
Plot summary of Harvest Home
An artist from New York brings his wife and daughter to the bucolic town of Cornwall Coombe. This is a town of simple folk and simple ways, as the townsfolk mention continually. They aren’t hostile to outsiders, permitted that the outsiders don’t meddle in things that don’t concern them.
Unfortunately for Ned, the curious artist, there is much going on in the town that doesn’t concern him. And when a mystery presents itself to him, he is unable to resist investigating. This central mystery hinges on what truly happened to a young woman during the weeks leading up to the Harvest Home ceremony in which the town gives thanks to whoever it is that blesses them with the harvest.
The book unfolds slowly, which I liked. You already know that things are going to get bad–the cover of the book alone should tell you that–but the hints are very low key at first. The people are generally friendly with Ned and his family, but when he asks certain questions, it is obvious that something strange is happening.
What’s up with the Widow who seems to have a remedy for everything?
Can the thirteen year old Missy really tell the future, as everyone believes?
What happens between the Corn Lord and the Corn Maiden during the ceremony? (duh).
Is there something going on with the blind man next door who listens to audiobooks and who never misses a chance to warn Ned about being too curious?
And more. While the book unfolds slowly, when things really get going in the final third, it happens fast and doesn’t let up. Thomas Tryon is a wonderful writer who understands that sometimes the creeping sense of dread that accompanies each page is so much better than being dropped into the middle of a horror story in the first paragraph.
Highly recommended for any horror or mystery fan.