Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm

In college I dated this guy named Sam.  Sam was a pretty cool guy that had a pretty big liking for watermelon. In fact, Sam liked watermelon so much he wrote watermelon poetry. He even wrote me a watermelon poem that highlighted all of the summer nights we spent walking hand-in-hand to the ice shack and eating – you guessed it … watermelon snow cones. “Hey, Hey Little Texas…”

*sigh* I really wish I hadn’t thrown those poems out with the trash.
But like all first loves (okay, maybe he was my… tenth), our nights holding hands and taking long walks while enjoying watermelon flavored ice finally came to an end. It was a difficult departure, one that ended with a broken promise by him, and an English essay written by me…
A Watermelon Love Gone Bad.
Talk about an understatement. I should have known by the little hints that he was giving that things were on the downside; his annoyance when I’d sing to the radio; calling me a second grader when I held him a little too long during a goodbye hug. But it was when he told me he couldn’t go to Homecoming because of his photography assignment for the school paper, and how he encouraged me to go with someone else that was the dead give-away. So I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I arrived at the dance with a blind date and saw Sam on the arm of the girl that asked to borrow my car to drive to the city so she could buy a dress for Homecoming, huh?
Sam was probably the first real love that ripped the ever-loving heart from my chest.  It was an open wound I carried for months. Not even the perfect grade on my watermelon love essay could heal the wound Sam had caused. My sadness, though, eventually turned to bitterness, a deep bitterness for the name Sam that I didn’t even realize I had until I learned the main character’s name in Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm.
Sam. Sam Thornton… the soul collector.
Suffering from consequences of past mistakes, Sam Thornton has been sentenced to a life of collecting souls marked for eternal damnation, a cold and thoughtless job for the most part. You would think a soul collector would be just as cold as the job he’s been assigned to for the rest of eternity, but Sam… seems different.
“The truth is, there’ve been thousands… Some spend their lives in fear of the moment, and catch my scent a mile away; they beg, they plead, they scream. In the end, it doesn’t matter – I always get what I came for. And I remember each and every one of them. Every face. Every name.”
It was that very paragraph that made me like Sam. It was those words - his thoughts - which made me realize that regardless of his current situation, Sam Thornton… has a conscience. If he didn’t have that, Sam would have no reason to remember every face and every name of every soul he’s collected. But he remembers because he’s been where these people are. He’s had his soul taken himself. And every soul collected is a reminder of the past deeds that put Sam where he is today.
The soul collecting is the consequence of choices made; daily realities so to speak, even a necessity. But the normal day-to-day soul collecting takes a different path for Sam when the soul that he’s been sent to collect blinds him with its pure light. Kate MacNeil may have been marked for damnation, but with the beauty that Sam has just witnessed, he’s certain that the assignment to collect Kate’s soul is a mistake. And it’s a possible mistake that Sam can’t ignore since collecting the soul of an innocent is a serious offense- one that could cause some serious fighting between Heaven and Hell.
But whether or not Kate’s soul was improperly marked for damnation isn’t the only issue standing before Sam. Sure, taking the soul of an innocent might start a war between Heaven and Hell, but not taking that soul will start a more personal war against Sam, since he’s not really in a position to tell the demons that rule that he won’t be following their orders.
But, yet… Sam does just that.
Still a believer in doing what’s right, Sam takes Kate on the run to battle demons, past memories, and a replacement collector to snag Kate’s soul. In the story you’ll read about the murders that marked Kate for damnation, Sam’s struggle with his past as he uncovers the hidden secrets behind Kate’s demise, demon deals and murder, and the extraordinary sacrifice of a creature that was once an angel – before the Fall.
Yeah, Sam might not be the most worthy in the group, but watching Sam turn from being Kate’s soul collector to her soul protector … well, damned or not, I’d let Sam Thornton snatch the soul from my chest any day of the week. And... I'd definitely let him snatch the soul of the guy I dated in college.


Christine H. said...

Revenge is Sweet, so they say. However, as much as I don’t “really go” for this type of story, it brings to mind that the author hits home when he tells that when you have “sinned”, etc, you have to pay for it one way or another. It makes you think about your life past.

On the other hand, you are so prolific in your story about Sam The Watermelon Guy……Breaking up and being dropped are very hard to handle. Been there. Done that. I hated it. Not very pleasant at the time. BUT, Revenge is Sweet!!!! Another fabulous little tit bit of your life. Love it.

Sara said...

As always, a FABULOUS job done by an equally fabulous lady :). I love the watermelon story! It's hard not to hold a grudge against someone who shares the name of someone who betrayed you. My mother has done the same thing. There is a restaurant that has a meal named the "_______ Special" (out of respect, I will not mention the name). I have had's delicious. She refuses to eat it JUST BECAUSE OF THE NAME!! It boggles my mind! And then I realize I have done the same thing.

The book sounds great, too! Very interesting. I have known a few people in my life who would be great at soul collecting, haha!

Thanks for always bringing a smile to my face!

Chris said...

Well, hell. Guess I shoulda called him Phil. (Thanks, Sabrina, for the very kind review!)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Terrific post, Sabrina! Lovely juxtaposition of two fascinating stories. I loved the Watermelon Love essay. *sigh* We've all been there and had that done to us. And Chris's book, of course, is superb.

Dyer Wilk said...

Such an interesting premise, the collecting of souls. It reminds me of a show that was on TV back in the '90s called Brimstone. Knowing Mr. Holm's reputation, however, I'm sure he's achieved an emotional depth that said show never did in its brief, uneventful run.

Jacqueline said...

The end of you post totally chilled me. Love it and cant wait to check it out.

Josh Stallings said...

Wonderful review, I love this book, and you nailed many of the reasons why. Holm makes you care about Sam, whether you want to or not. This one rip tearing wild ride of a tale, but as you point out it is the core of a moral character stuck with really difficult task. AND you gave us a Watermelon poet lost love story to boot. A great story made even more relevant by having read Dark Harvest. Hats off.