Oxford based author Sharon Bolton has written a series of interconnected novels that straddle fantasy, gritty crime and horror. Blood Harvest, which is my favourite of the lot, definitely falls into the horror pile – in fact I scared myself so badly while reading it that I was too afraid to sleep and stayed up all night trying to finish it!
Blood Harvest is another story which begins with a family transplanted to a strange new place, and it is a strange place indeed with its ancient English folk practices that seem so bloody and terrifying to our modern sanitised culture. In addition to how strange and sinister the place itself is the small boy of the family begins to experience even stranger and more sinister things, which his parents assume are an effect of having moved to a new place and an overactive imagination. They are, of course, wrong.
This is a story where humanity are the True Monsters, a theme Bolton’s touched upon in her other books but never so pronouncedly as here. She displays the different ways this manifests for us, from the personal horror families keep hidden inside to a wider spread societal hideousness that’s often impossible to see until viewed from the outside. Its that latter that makes this offering of hers so special; in the other books she’s written, even when an entire community is absorbed in something evil, that community is either isolated from the rest of society or taken over by an outside force which warps it. The things being done in them are recognisable to us as aberrations which makes the reader feel complacent – of course we would never condone or be a part of that. These things are exceptional evils, like serial killers, beyond the understanding of reasonable men. But in Blood Harvest one of the great forces for evil, the one which drives the entire plot and all of the terror, is an everyday prejudice many people are barely aware they even have, never mind the harm they do because of it.
I like a novel which makes you think, and one that makes you re-examine aspects of society while still making you cower under the duvet because you’re afraid of bloody handprints on the window is definitely a winner.
I give Blood Harvest a 666/666