Book Review: Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm (Series, #1)
Sam sold his soul to the devil in the 1940s and ever since then he’s been hopping from body to body, possessing and utilizing them to perform his task–collect the souls of the dammed. Although he can possess anyone, he prefers the recently dead. His new assignment stops him dead in his tracks though when he touches the 17 year old girl’s soul, a girl who supposedly killed her mother, father, and brother in cold blood, and finds it untainted. His refusal to collect her sends both angels and demons after him, eager to restore the balance, but Sam insists that collecting her soul will only bring about the Apocalypse.
I’m not sure why, but somewhere between my email from Angry Robot about this then upcoming book and actually reading it, I forgot what it was about and assumed from the title that it’s about zombies. Um, not so much? Haha. Actually, it is an urban fantasy film noir. Instead of a detective we have a collector, who, a friend pointed out to me, is basically the same as Sam the Reaper on the tv show Reaper. Our femme fatale is Lilith (you know, the first woman god made but she refused to be subservient to man so she got kicked out of the garden and went and hung out with demons. I always liked her). It all sounds super-cool, but I was left feeling very luke-warm about the whole thing.
First, there’s how Sam talks, which I get is supposed to come across as witty banter, but I myself didn’t find that amusing. Perhaps I’m way too familiar with the classic works of film noir and to me this just didn’t measure up. Perhaps I’m just a mismatch for it. I feel like people with a slightly different sense of humor would enjoy it more, though. Personally it just read as Sam trying too hard to sound suave, which I always find annoying.
My other big issue with the story is a couple of really unbelievable action sequences. Ok, I get it that this is urban fantasy, but even within that we still need believability. What do I mean by this? Well, if something huge happens that affects the mortals, there should be discussion of how the immortals cover it up or deal with the fall-out. This doesn’t really happen in this book. One sequence in particular that bugged me involved Sam and the 17 year old hijacking a helicopter, flying it all over NYC, then crashing it in a park AND THEY GET AWAY. Does anyone believe this could actually happen in a post 9/11 world unless some sort of otherworldly shielding was going on? I don’t think so. It was at this point that I knew the book was just not gonna work for me.
Does this mean that I think it’s a badly written book? No. It’s an interesting twist on urban fantasy and film noir simultaneously. The characters are interesting, and the plot wraps-up fairly well. I personally found it difficult to get into and found some sequences simply too ridiculous to believe. However, I do think other people might enjoy it more, perhaps someone who has an intense love for urban fantasy and doesn’t mind ridiculous situations.
3 out of 5 stars
Source: Kindle copy from publisher in exchange for my honest review