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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dark urban fantasy
Dead Harvest is a dark urban fantasy. The book is interesting because it manages to be thoroughly supernatural and yet keep the fantastical elements to a minimum by casting heaven and hell, angels and demons, into everyday landscapes and people. By that I mean, the world is portrayed as we know it, with the souls of the fallen and blessed dwelling in individuals...
Published 23 months ago by Rob Kitchin

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2.0 out of 5 stars Weak plot - could have been so much more
Dark Harvest could have been an excellent novel. It is an original concept and contains some nice moody writing. But for me the fundamental failure of the book was the plot. The motivation of the characters was weak and lacked depth and hence the plot seemed forced at many places. The main issue I have, however, is with the turning point in book; there is a random...
Published 5 months ago by Mark


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dark urban fantasy, 6 May 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
Dead Harvest is a dark urban fantasy. The book is interesting because it manages to be thoroughly supernatural and yet keep the fantastical elements to a minimum by casting heaven and hell, angels and demons, into everyday landscapes and people. By that I mean, the world is portrayed as we know it, with the souls of the fallen and blessed dwelling in individuals. Thornton `borrows' bodies to undertake his collections. Holm writes in an assured style with engaging prose. The contextual material is well thought through and conveyed and Thornton's back story is nicely told. The characters have enough depth for the story to work but, except for Thornton, are fairly sketchy and a little under-utilised - it would have been nice to find out a bit more about Anders and Pinch, for example. The plot is nicely structured and tugs the read through the story. The first two thirds I thought worked very nicely. The latter third seemed a little rushed, transforming into a kind of caper, and the believability factor, which even in fantasy is calibrated, dropped - Thornton and Kate repeatedly manage to escape encounters in which they really should have perished and the timings felt a little off. It seemed as if the story had slipped from indie production to Hollywood blockbuster, although it's fair to say that in the right hands Dead Harvest would potentially make a good movie. Overall, an enjoyable read that excels on premise and contextual construction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dead good..., 13 May 2012
By 
Emmster "the book wurme" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
I sat and read this in two evenings due to a) the wife being out - hence the television stayed off, and b) I found it hard to put down.

First things first: it's written in the first person. If that gives you the shivers - probably best to back away now!
Second things...second. If you have viewed and enjoyed the film "Constantine" then chances are you'll enjoy this book. There are many similarities - but the plot is better and Keanu doesn't feature.

I've seen/read quite a few tales of the eternal struggle between Good & Evil being played out in the earthly realm. This is definitely in my top 10. I liked the character of Sam Thornton, finding him to be immediately likeable and progressively more interesting. I enjoyed the gradual reveal of his back-story via flashbacks interposed within the main story-line.

Chris Holm made the peripheral characters pretty light-weight, sacrificing depth for plot velocity. I have no issue with being given only hints at a character's past as I quite enjoy unchaining my imagination to fill in the blanks. Being in the first person - lots of exposition would have (In my not-so-humble opinion!) slowed things down considerably, making it a very different book.

The criticism I have is directed against the final third of the book. The pace hits light-speed, and for me, it seemed like Chris H. crammed his A2 sized vision on an A5 page. There were a couple of moments where I fell out of my totally engrossed state thinking "hmmm, I'm not sure, even with my 'willing suspension of disbelief', that I believe it...". Once where a scene was just *too fantastic* and the other where the timings of events didn't add up. I agree with another reviewer who mentioned it seemed to get a bit 'Hollywood'.

That said - I will definitely buy the second in the series and I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in this sort of material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great supernatural thriller, 28 Nov 2012
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I was looking forward to reading this from the other reviews and it didnt disappoint. I finished it in a couple of days. Highly recommended!

Incidentally, another reviewer compared it to Constantine (the movie) but it reminded me of the original (the graphic novel).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet the Collectors..., 29 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
I have a confession to make - I'm an addict, I'm hooked on Angry Robot books. There I've said it, feels good to finally get it out there into the open. Things got so bad that I've actively avoided Angry Robot publications for the last couple of months. Ever since I pronounced them my publisher of 2011 in December, I realised that I had to go `cold turkey' for a while. There was a serious danger of me reading nothing but Angry Robot books all the time and getting stuck on one publisher doesn't work terribly well if you are a book reviewer.

Up until very recently I've done quite well. There has been the odd wobble (I'm looking at you Empire State), but with the exception of that one lapse my life has been Angry Robot free. I've taken each day one step at a time and I thought that I had my Angry Robot habit beat.

What changed then? Why am I wallowing once again in the quagmire of bookish addiction? I have two words for you - Dead Harvest.

I'm a sucker for novels, films and TV shows that deal with the subject matter of life after death, and the afterlife. The last great unknown is a fertile playground for any author, and Chris Holm has let his imagination have free reign in Dead Harvest. He has created a world where the forces of Heaven and Hell are locked in an uneasy detente, just so long as everyone continues to do their jobs.

Sam Thornton, the novel's main protagonist, has a crumpled world-weariness that makes his character immediately engaging. He has been ground down by having to deal with dark forces, demons and scumbags for decades. Such a long time in fact that it's hardly a surprise that he has finally reached his breaking point. Sam's one act of rebellion, refusing to collect a soul, starts a chain of events that could have dire apocalyptic consequences. Both sides in this cold war don't appreciate anyone changing the rules, and Sam's compassion could be the world's undoing.

I really like the fact that Sam is flying by the seat of his pants for nearly the entire novel. He has spent decades confined by his role but now he is working without the aid of a safety net, just making it up as he goes along. As Sam re-discovers what it means to no longer be bound by the rules of his curse his new found sense of freedom is palpable.

Throughout the main narrative there are flashbacks that cover Sam's introduction into the world of the Collectors. These glimpses into Sam's past offer valuable insight for the reader. You get to discover the man that Sam once was and, more importantly, why he has ended up in the situation he finds himself in.

Dead Harvest is available in multiple formats, as an ebook or paperback, and I have to say that in this case I would favour the paperback edition. Why? Well the paperback has some wonderfully evocative retro style cover art, definitely a handsome addition to any self-respecting bookcase. I was searching for a picture of said cover on the Internet and it appears that the second Collectors novel, The Wrong Goodbye, will be similarly styled. Kudos has to go to Amazing15 for some truly eye-catching designs.

Dead Harvest is a fantastic entry into the every growing Angry Robot cannon. Fast paced dark fantasy that is likely to leave you wanting more. Be warned though, this is the literary equivalent of crack, and it is entirely possible that if you aren't already, you are going to get hooked. Take it from someone who knows.

Dead Harvest is released on 1st March 2012 in the UK and as available now in US/Canada. It will probably come as no surprise to learn that Dead Harvest is published by those fine purveyors of addictive literary genre fiction Angry Robot Books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A supernatural sleuthing page-turner, 27 Feb 2012
This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, and I literally had no idea what to expect: no preconceptions whatsoever. I was quite prepared to give up after a few pages, as I have absolutely no compulsion to finish any book, or to continue reading a book that does not grab me within a few pages.

Fortunately, Dead Harvest grabbed me. And how. It's an urban fantasy, so think angels and demons, but in a modern, gritty framework. The author skilfully fuses the noir, hardbitten crime novel genre with the urban fantasy element: no romantic vampires here! Our hero is Sam Thornton, a collector of souls. Not technically alive, he has the ability to inhabit the body of any living or recently dead human in order to carry out his grisly task. Until the day he tries to collect the soul of Kate, a young multiple murderer, and becomes convinced that she is innocent. He is soon on the run from the forces of both Heaven and Hell, trying to prevent a cosmic calamity. I found myself racing through the book in a few hours, completely caught up in the relentless drive of the narrative.

What I really liked about the book was the pitch-perfect evocation of Sam through the first-person narration. Honest and self-deprecating, he wins your trust early on. But we see things only through his eyes. Is Kate really innocent? Is Sam right to go against the angels themselves? We can't know these things, we have to wait for events to unfold to find out if our fears are realised. And there is a lot of unfolding. Events come thick and fast, nothing is predictable, and the ride takes your breath away.

In short, I loved it and I can't wait to read the next one!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Weak plot - could have been so much more, 27 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
Dark Harvest could have been an excellent novel. It is an original concept and contains some nice moody writing. But for me the fundamental failure of the book was the plot. The motivation of the characters was weak and lacked depth and hence the plot seemed forced at many places. The main issue I have, however, is with the turning point in book; there is a random piece of luck or coincidence which then empowers the main character. This 'find' is never explained and struck me as lazy writing - (warning plot 'such as it is' spoiler) it seems the author is basically not sure how to get out of the situation where the all power demon is going to destroy the place so he sticks a magic jar in handy reach of the hero -- this magic jar fragment helps said hero survive the rest of the book. There are so many other sophisticated ways the hero could have become empowered - but no the random magic item is used. It does mean I will not be reading any more of his books even if the writing gets better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars New twist..., 4 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
... on the undead concept. Aggressive, exciting writing from a new (to me) writer for a niche publisher that takes care with it product; the cover caught my eye and the contents did not disappoint.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great!!, 9 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
Turned up very quickly, it was in perfect condition and the book (so far) is excellent. No problems at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Collection you will not want to contribute too!, 9 Jan 2013
This review is from: Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) (Paperback)
You have to hand it to 'Angry Robot'. Whenever you are in the mood for something completely different they are the publishing house to go to.

This was a classic Marlowe type story as the psuedo-old cover would suggest but with a pretty big twist. Sam, our hero, does not track down adulterer's and crooks he tracks down the damned and liberates them of their souls. 'Ahh you low-down son of a spoiler!' I hear you cry. Well maybe a touch, but as all this becomes clear by page 2 (if you have not already worked it out from the cover and title) I plead the 5th ammendment!

So here we have a story of the already dead, as is our Sam (a 'Collector' of souls) but also Demons and Angels all making free in the land of mankind!
I will say no more for genuine fear of spoiling but it is a relentless and breathless ride with a nice couple of plot twists hitting home late on.

If I had to find fault I would perhaps point out that the story is essentially one huge chase scene and I would have like the author to maybe slow the story down occasionally and give a bit more texture to the world he has created and perhaps add a couple more characters in the story to add complexity to the 'who dunnit' elements.

But I really enjoyed this blend of crime / horror (and I am so often very disappointed by horror) and I think the story would make a cracking film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Good, 21 Dec 2012
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Excellent first book in New series that concentrates on a character call Sam who is a soul collector. The story is very well told with plenty of noir elements, setting is New York can't wait to download and read the next book.
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Dead Harvest (Angry Robot)
Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) by Chris F Holm (Paperback - 1 Mar 2012)
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