Hate to say I bought a book solely based on its cover, but let’s face it: sometimes you just see a book in stores that instantly demands your attention. Standing in the fantasy section of my favorite bookstore, Dead Harvest just stood out. Surrounded by all sorts of heroic fantasy covers stood these two books with simplistic three-colored designs. Styled to look like one of those old cheap Penguin books. I just knew I had to get my hands on it.
Sam Thornton’s a troubled soul. Not only is he a broken man with a difficult past tasked with the impossible, he’s literally a doomed soul. Once, ages ago, his soul was claimed and collected by the underworld. Now, he works as a collector for the same people. A job he doesn’t particularly enjoy doing. One day he’s tasked to collect the soul of an innocent. He does the one thing no Collector has ever done before: he refuses. It all goes to hell from there.
I’m not kidding about the going to hell part. I’ve read a lot of thrillers, a lot of fantasy stories that told us damnation is just around the corner, so many books where the big bad is just one step behind our hero, and never have I actually felt that it really was the case as strongly as I felt it in Dead Harvest.
What makes almost every situation the characters find themselves in, and every new character that is introduced so exciting is how Collectors interact with the world of the living. They have to posses bodies, dead and living alike. Or as the Collectors like to call them, Meatsuits. Already early on Sam gets warned that if he doesn’t collect the girl soon, other Collectors will come to finish the job for him. From that moment on, the action doesn’t let up. Any humanoid character that you meet could suddenly get taken over by a Collector. A fact that the author, Chris F. Holm, is absolutely aware of. There were parts where I felt that same amount of tension and awe that I had when I first was introduced to the T1000, years ago. The bad guy could be anyone, and the bad guy came across as an unstoppable monster that just would not let up.
The characters were quite well realized, although you don’t really learn much about most of them besides Sam Thornton and his past, and Kate, the girl who he was sent to collect. We get to learn a few vague details about the setting and how things are set up in the eternal conflict between heaven and hell, but nothing really concrete. I would have loved to learn more about these things, but I feel they’re going to be set aside for the later books as this is a first in the series.
I know it’s early to say this, but so far this has been my favorite book this year. Where most would say that a book is so great they didn’t sleep until they finished it, I found myself reading more slowly, spreading it through a week or so, just to have more time to get lost within the setting and with the characters. As much as the suspense was killing me, I just didn’t want it to end.
- The entire helicopter part
- How the concept of Collectors and souls was worked out
- Not much detail about the conflict between heaven and hell found its way into the story, despite it being important to the overal plot