Harran Blackwood was a priest of Sigmar, full of righteous fury and zeal. Now, he’s an embittered drunk, scraping a living on the edges of society. Blackwood haunts the back-streets of Greywater Fastness, offering his services to those who can’t – or won’t – go to the proper authorities. While Blackwood’s faith has long since guttered to nothing, he still retains his knowledge of the workings of evil, something that comes in handy on the fringes of society.
Blackwood receives a letter from an old friend – a plea for help to find his friends missing daughter. So begins Blackwood’s journey to the isolated village of Wald, a community unwelcoming of outsiders and with secrets to hide. What Blackwood finds there threatens more than just his life – it threatens his very soul…
Author: Joshua Reynolds
Publisher: The Black Library
Release Date: 12/12/2019
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror
My Rating of ‘Dark Harvest’: 4 out of 5
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review
When I saw the beautifully dark cover for Dark Harvest and Josh Reynolds listed as the author, I knew I had to get my hands on this. Josh is one of those authors that seems incapable of providing anything less than a four or five star read for me. Just has such a deep, gritty way with telling stories in the Warhammer universe.
Dark Harvest is part of Black Library’s ‘Warhammer Horror’ genre. I’m not sure if the fact that I kind of feel it isn’t any different to the dark stories that they used to publish or that maybe I just have a thick skin in this delicate era we live in, but I didn’t find it very horrory. That being said, I have been reading the dark fiction put out by the Black Library since I was about eleven. So it takes a lot to make me shiver.
The basic story is one of an ex-warrior priest (Harran Blackwood) turned bitter drunk. Instead of swinging his hammer in the name of Sigmar, he now thrusts his knife in the name of any man willing to pay coin enough for his service. He’s a leg-breaker, a debt-collector and all-around odd job man for those of less honest backgrounds. He receives a letter from a friend begging for help and, due to a past that Blackwood would prefer to keep buried, he decides this friend needs to be removed. After all, his continued existence relies on people not knowing where he is, let alone who he is. And this old friend knows both.
He travels off to the depths of the swamplands in search of said friend and gets embroiled in troubles not his own along the way. The story is told in first person narrative and in Harran’s own gritty, un-polished way. It made me think of the Raven’s Mark series by Ed McDonald. Harran Blackwood is very similar in mannerism and speech/thought as Ryhalt Galharrow. So, if you are a fan of that series, you just may appreciate the bleak and grim style of Dark Harvest. Much like Galharrow, Blackwood has that ‘Not too fussed if I die, so I’ll just do what I want’ mentality.
If I was to have one complaint about the novel as a whole it would be that I felt it was perhaps a little too long. Some of it could have been done at a little quicker pace and it left me wondering if they were going for higher word count rather than a better reading flow. If I was to have a second it would simply be that some of the things that happen near the end made me a tad annoyed. More so because I just didn’t want them to happen than for any negative story reason. So that was entirely a bitter personal choice.
There are certainly some things you don’t see coming in this book which keep the reader on their toes. I do hate it when a novel is too linear and you could practically write the plot yourself. Thankfully, at no point does Dark Harvest suffer from that fate.
Josh does a good job of setting the scene and bringing the surroundings to life. After a while of reading, the damp, soggy confines of the boggy swamp permeate your mind and you often feel that murkiness as though it’s in the room with you.
All in all it’s very well-written and certainly worth a read if you like your grim fantasy. I just think it could have benefitted from less padding.