Jul 20, 2010

Cemetery Dance Announces New Norman Partridge Anthology - Johnny Halloween!

Cover Artist: Alex McVey

That cover is correct. The October Boy is back!

I discovered Norman Partridge after a recommendation from Joe Schreiber and I haven't looked back since. After the outstanding Dark Harvest (my review) which Schreiber recommended, I picked up his next collection, Lesser Demons (my review), and only found more to love. Partridge's prose is paradoxically perfect. It's heavenly prose married to hellish content. It's dense but incredibly readable. It's heavy on metaphor and symbolism but the end result often evokes a unforgettable image. It's bloody but beautiful.  It's just damn good.

So far I've been unable to track down his other short fiction collections but I've made a point to keep track of what Partridge has been up to. Yesterday on his blog, American Frankenstein, Partidge announced a new collection complete with a return to the world of the excellent Dark Harvest.
"Given that little slice of history, it's with great pleasure that I announce Johnny Halloween is back at Cemetery Dance, this time as the lead story in a special Halloween collection due this fall. Along with a fantastic Alex McVey cover, Johnny Halloween features a half-dozen tales of the darkest season, including a new story set in the world of Dark Harvest.

That's right. The October Boy returns in the pages of Johnny Halloween -- and this time he's got a shotgun and one bad döppelganger on his tail. There's also a brand new introduction and a nonfiction piece on the Zodiac Killer ("The Man Who Killed Halloween"). You can check out all the details right here, plus snag a $15 coupon for a future purchase if you preorder the book in the next seven days.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on the shadows. Listen for the whisper of that October wind. It's coming your way... and sooner than you might think."
He also posted the Alex McVey cover to the anthology. Normally, I wouldn't be the biggest far of that cover art but if you've read Dark Harvest it captures the essence of the October Boy perfectly. And the more I look at it, the more I like it. The textural elements that look like knife slashes are subtle but brilliant and the block lettering for the title and Partridge's name is an excellent font choice. I don't think the "Johnny Halloween" necessarily matches the "Tales of the Dark Season" but I can forgive that small issue.

You can order Johnny Halloween from the Cemetery Dance website, which also provides a bit more detail about the contents of the collection.

Norman Partridge's Halloween novel, Dark Harvest, was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books of 2006. A Bram Stoker Award winner and World Fantasy nominee, Partridge's rapid-fire tale of a small town trapped by its own shadows welcomed a wholly original creation, the October Boy, earning the author comparisons to Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson.

Now Partridge revisits Halloween with a collection featuring a half-dozen stories celebrating frights both past and present. In “The Jack o' Lantern,” a brand new Dark Harvest novelette, the October Boy races against a remorseless döppelganger bent on carving a deadly path through the town's annual ritual of death and rebirth. “Johnny Halloween” features a sheriff battling both a walking ghost and his own haunted conscience. In “Three Doors,” a scarred war hero hunts his past with the help of a magic prosthetic hand, while “Satan's Army” is a real Partridge rarity previously available only in a long sold-out lettered edition from another press.

But there's more to this holiday celebration besides fiction. “The Man Who Killed Halloween” is an extensive essay about growing up during the late sixties in the town where the Zodiac Killer began his murderous spree. In an introduction that explores monsters both fictional and real, Partridge recalls what it was like to live in a community menaced by a serial killer and examines how the Zodiac's reign of terror shaped him as a writer.

Halloween night awaits. Join a master storyteller as he explores the layers of darkness that separate all-too-human evil from the supernatural. Let Norman Partridge lead you on seven journeys through the most dangerous night of the year, where no one is safe…and everyone is suspect.
I'm not quite ready for summer to be over, but if fall promises another Partridge collection, I won't be as sad to see it go.

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