Snagging a copy of Josh Reynold’s Dark Harvest, I’d planned to crush this Warhammer Horror novel (as one does with BL novels). Unfortunately I struggled for many weeks to make progress and it took much longer than anticipated to finish the novel.

Hot

  • The ‘city’ of Wald – Most of the story takes place in and around Wald. It’s an invocative and rich setting brought to life through vivid details. Reynolds paints a bleak picture by capturing the day to day struggle of the inhabitants living in squalor trying to eek out an existence in the swamp.
  • The main character – Harran Blackwood is a conflicted, troubled and fully realized protagonist. Although I hesitate to call him a protagonist. He may not be a good person, but damn he’s compelling.
  • Two minutes to midnight – There is a sense of dread throughout the novel. As a reader you can feel that something awful is going to happen, but you are not sure what until it’s far too late.
  • Use of violence – This is not ‘bolter porn’ from Black Library. This is not a story of massed battles and never-ending war. The fighting is reserved for the most impactful moments. Reynolds shows restraint witch leads the acts of violence to have a real weight to them, as if it was a last resort.

Not

  • Ghyrlion, Ghyran, Ghyrwolf, Aqshy, Aqshian, ghyroch, fyreslayer, duardin, gryphon, aelf – Reading any of these words would immediately pull me out of the otherwise fantastic setting and I’d have to work to re-immerse myself in the story. These names seem so forced and completely stopped the flow of the narrative.
  • The first fourth of the book – The story takes a long while to develop and the journey to Wald is a rough read. It’s long and it’s boring.
  • Age of Sigmar – Why oh why did this book have to take place in the Age of Sigmar setting instead of Warhammer Fantasy? The locations, the characters, the plot – it all oozes WFB but then along comes some ham-fisted reference to AoS and the world shatters.

The Takeaway

Dark Harvest trys to walk the line between old and new. Between Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar. Frankly, it doesn’t work. The story in compelling and I did enjoy following the narrative. But every mention of something from Age of Sigmar felt so out of place, so forced, that I would stop mid-sentence. I you are familiar with the Age of Sigmar setting you’ll probably have an easier time with this, but I don’t think I can recommend this one. Even with all the aspects that I loved.