How good is that cover? Evil jack-o-lantern scarecrow creature is what it promises and that’s precisely what Norm Partridge’s excellent little horror story delivers.
It’s Halloween in a small mid-Western American town and every boy between the age of 16 and 19 has a chance to escape their dull, depressing existence – by slaying the pumpkin-headed October Boy, a malevolent creature that brings terror to their town every year.
The setting and the set-up are pure Stephen King: ordinary small town folk doing battle with murderous, supernatural evil. But in King’s hands this would become an interminable 600-page behemoth with 200 pages of exposition and 100 pages of bad dialogue.
Partridge is a much better writer, delivering a 170-page thrill ride that I devoured in a single sitting.
It’s a tight and propulsive little campfire story with no padding. It’s not meta or post-modern or self-aware like so much modern horror – it’s refreshingly and unashamedly straight-forward, a wonderfully effective throwback I’m shocked hasn’t been turned into a movie.