How Far Would You Go To Save Your Family?
First the birds went quiet.
Then the evening sky filled with strange clouds that trapped the heat below.
Now Callum wakes, dripping in sweat. Something has come to his isolated Welsh farm. If he's going to keep his family alive during this single night when all hell breaks loose, he'll have to think fast. And when he sees what he's facing, he suspects even that may not be enough.
This blast of a book can be read in one nail-biting session.
- Harvest Festival was in the list for the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot.
- Harvest Festival is also available as an audio book.
- This book is also available in Karl Drinkwater's Horror Collection, along with Turner and They Move Below.
ISBNs: Print 978-1-911278-08-5 / E-book 978-1-911278-09-2
"Harvest Festival [is] a splendidly horrific alien adventure that makes me think of the old Quatermass series." 5*
-- Altered Instinct (6th April 2017)
"Suspenseful and keeps you on your seat. Great story ... Makes you think what would you do in this type of situation."
-- G.M. Kelso, Goodreads (26th March 2017)
"There’s no other term for it – Harvest Festival is a tour de force. It’s only about a hundred conventional pages long, but for most of them the narrative surges along at presto adagio pace, lunging from crisis to crisis as four members of a hill-farming family in Wales try desperately to escape deadly danger. The pace is terrific. Some of the sentences run at breakneck speed, continuing line after line and leaving you constantly breathless.
This is no mean feat. The grammar has to have coherence; the punctuation has to work. ...
I was helped enormously by the observant and insightful way Drinkwater sets the scene and establishes the four main characters: disaffected husband, resentful children and long-suffering wife. They’re entirely three-dimensional, and we soon realise that their mutual fondness is hovering only just below the surface, ready to emerge as soon as the threat to them becomes real.
... this is the genre he’s chosen, and he follows it through with irresistible relish.
... it’s a piece with real impact.
As an aside, I greatly admire the cover design, which succeeds in rendering a rural setting in suitably garish colours without seeming in any way downmarket or sensationalist. Its tongue-in-cheek style draws you in and makes you want to know what’s in store. The answer doesn’t disappoint."
-- Aspiring Editor, Amazon (20th March 2017)
"I am thrilled I dived right in without any preconceived ideas. What I loved about the story is that it captured the uneasy fears I felt from one of my favorite movies - Signs. Karl's writing brings you straight into the hearts of the characters, their struggles, and their innermost fears of dealing with an unimaginable alien invasion. If you are a fan of War of the Worlds, then Harvest Festival brings you into the terror of what might really happen inside an alien ship with aliens hellbent on humankind's destruction. The book is fast-paced and kept me reading through one sitting. ... If you enjoy horror or sci-fi or character-driven stories, you will enjoy Harvest Festival."
-- L.B. Stimson, Goodreads (17th March 2017)
"Spooky and scary ... Harvest Festival is an excellent read. Once you start the book, I found it difficult to stop, especially the second half - the suspense was great. ... well written and realistic. This was my first horror read and I loved it."
-- Robert J Hamilton, Amazon (16th March 2017)
"I loved the swift pace of this novella. This is a page-turner and you can read it in one sitting. There is a tangible sense of panic and darkness as everyman Callum tries to protect his family from the visitors from Hell. I was drawn in from the get-go and I'm confident this book will appeal not only to horror fans, but also sci-fi fans who enjoy some scares and otherworldly creepiness tossed into the mix. If they ever bring back the Twilight Zone, this would make a terrific first episode. This is beautiful, no-frills and not-a-wasted word writing. A great read and well worth your time."
-- Mark Gillespie, Author (27th February 2017)
"I always love being surprised by a story. Karl Drinkwater’s Harvest Festival is quite deceiving, setting up what feels like a small secluded tale which quickly outgrows its boundaries, expanding into something I couldn’t have predicted. The frenetic style of storytelling Drinkwater employs really works, giving a drive to the narrative that only amps up the urgency of the story. To me, this felt like the story that M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” could have been. Great example of what long fiction should be, the “fluff” stripped away, leaving only a rip-roaring story that plows along roads seldom tread. I discovered this book on the list of preliminary Bram Stoker Awards nominees; definitely deserving of the honor."
-- The Behrg, Author (27th February 2017)
"If you like scary gore, this novella is for you. I read this heart-pounding tale with superb character development in one sitting. Great stuff - loved it!"
-- PeaceLoveHope, Amazon (31st January 2017)
"I love it when I discover a new author that pushes all my buttons, and this time it was truly a surprise. In this novella, Drinkwater packs enough horror written at a breakneck pace into this tale than most novels contain. Highly recommended. I certainly intend to read more of his work."
-- Pete Kahle, Amazon (29th January 2017)
"The book is excellently written, every word seems to be there for a reason. The tension builds from the end of an average day on the farm for Callum and his family. The ordinary strains on family relationships is very evident in the first few chapters. I loved the realism of those scenes. The fact that those scenes are so normal allows for tension to build rapidly once the family ends up facing a horrific invasion. Dramatic and terrifying, the scenes move speedily along to an ending which stayed in my head for some while."
-- Noelle Kelly, Amazon (12th January 2017)
"WOW! It was non-stop action from start to finish. A well written and interesting story, that despite its horror genre, also delved into the human spirit and answered the question: what would you do if you were suddenly thrust into an impossible situation that you could never have prepared for? A gripping story from start to finish, I would highly recommend it!"
-- Puppycaio, Amazon (9th December 2016)
"Harvest Festival was truly a nail biter. This was an excellent listen. I enjoyed the way it started out with a pretty typical family situation with them living on a farm and the son being interested in astronomy and the daughter bored and chatting on her phone. It's dinnertime, then bedtime, then... Karl Drinkwater is a terrific author and I hope to listen to more of his work. I thought this short story was absolutely exciting. Couldn't stop listening. R J Alldred's performance was incredibly good. Her approach to reading this story was totally edge of your seat. I think she took this book over the top with her vocal skills. Great listen."
-- Teresa, Audible (9th December 2016 - audiobook version)
"This may be a short story but it is packed with action and horror. It is fast paced and will keep your interest from beginning to end. The narrator puts a lot of energy in this audio. Her performance is a joy to listen to."
-- PattyH, Audible (29th November 2016 - audiobook version)
"Fantastic writing both in use of language and crafting of story. For a relatively short book it's an extensive journey into the imagination. Excellent combining of the English old world and terrifying modernity."
-- Cathryn, Audible (26th November 2016 - audiobook version)
"Wow… This book was like nothing I thought I would ever be interested in but I loved it.. It was grotesque and horrifying and kept me on the edge of my seat!!"
-- Meagan, Audible (21st November 2016 - audiobook version)
"I've been a fan of Karl's work since reading his first horror book, Turner, a few years ago. I've yet to be let down by anything he's written. Harvest Festival is a nice little novella, I wasn't able to put it down and blew through it in about an hour. While the the title doesn't give much away, it makes horrifying (if not slightly disgusting) sense by the end."
-- Shaun Horton, Goodreads (12th November 2016)
"Harvest Festival reminded me much like a Stephen King novella, but with a Welsh touch. The writing itself was topnotch and the editing superb. My recommendation is that you should read this novella."
-- John A Galeotto, Goodreads (9th November 2016)
"Harvest Festival is a novella, just 94 print pages long. Short enough to read in one sitting, which is good because you will not want put this story down once you start.
I thought Drinkwater captured the harsh reality of living on a Welsh farm really well. The story starts with typical problems for our rather disfunctional family. Mum and Dad's marriage is failing but they are trying to keep some semblance of 'family' life together. Son doesn't want to do his chores and teenage daughter is desperate to live her own life anywhere but on the farm. However, their problems soon become trivial as the story descends into your worst nightmare.
Something is coming for you and your loved ones.
Something you don't understand.
Something that isn't going to stop.
The way the family escape the initial attack is clever. Drinkwater has obviously put a lot of thought into ways of exiting a house. I was reading faster and faster as they fought to get away. As the 'things' close their net around the village, the family bonds and the story rattles along at a cracking pace.
No spoilers, but the last pages of the book are particularly well written and I loved the double meaning in the title, "Harvest Festival". After all our hero's hard work rescuing and escaping, I didn't see the end coming. It was bad, yet hopeful at the same time. I really wanted a sequel to see what would happen next. [...] This is not your typical Hallowe'en horror but definitely a story to keep you up at night."
-- Suzanna Williams, Goodreads (28th October 2016)
Harvest Festival was featured in: 5 Halloween Reads To Make You Shiver (from Jera's Jamboree, 7th October 2016)
"Another fantastic read by Karl Drinkwater - why is he not on the best-seller list? Although the novella only runs to 85 pages, it packs plenty in. There are hints of familiarity - a pinch of Dr Who's Cybermen, a dash of War of the Worlds and a sprinkling of The Human Centipede (maybe just a tiny sprinkle) all shaken, with a hero that has the diving skill of Tom Daley, stirred and poured out in the form of a delicious titbit. The author is skilled in accelerating the tension, cleverly using sentence shortening to to the extent I found I was nearly hyperventilating at one stage. [...] I cannot understand why the author has not yet found himself with a bestseller!"
-- Jen, Goodreads (14th October 2016)
"The dialogues are awesome [...] At the first pages I laughed with the jokes of the writer but after... well after came the terror. I felt as panicked as the heroes of the book and I never got bored. The author kept me in my toes and always on the edge. I will suggest it to my friends because is a hidden treasure."
-- Anna Stergiou, Amazon (18th September 2016)
"From the cover you get a sense that something sinister is about to happen. [...] Night falls and the ride begins. Packed with action all the way to the end. [...] a wild ride of action and suspense."
-- Brigitta Moon, Goodreads (17th September 2016)
"Fantastic! I was hooked right from the very start. The author is a very powerful storyteller. I've read some very engaging books in my life, this one is at or near the top. As soon as I hit "submit" I will be searching for other books by this author. A great sci-fi novella!"
-- Bob Wilson, Goodreads (17th September 2016)
"This festival is no picnic for the characters but a feast for the reader. [...] I devoured it in one sitting. The rural setting was immaculately rendered and as I live in a similar location, this is high praise indeed. The author hooks us with the family dynamic particularly Callum, then flicks a switch. From that point it is a roller-coaster ride. The feeling of dread is pervasive and the pages virtually drip with the sticky red stuff. [...] We have no streetlights where I live and I'll be wary of any blue tinge to the sky for several nights to come."
-- seilachan boy, Amazon (15th September 2016)
"Callum is a Welsh arable farmer with a failing marriage, a teenage daughter who hates him and a young son who he desperately wishes won't grow up. It's harvest time, which is a great excuse for Callum to stay out of the house and not have to deal with them. That evening, there is a very strange cloud formation visible in the odd-coloured dusk sky. Then during the night, Callum is awoken by movement outside. It's obvious they are not alone, and as the unseen menace approaches they need a plan of escape, and fast. [...] What happens next is a non-stop action thriller as Callum tries to guide his family to safety through a number of set-pieces. I could go more into them but that would spoil the surprise, but the sense of danger and desperation is never far away. This kind of invasion usually only happens in America according to films, so it was good to have a change in scenery to Wales for a sci-fi tale that didn't involve Torchwood. [...] The main character and his family are instantly relatable and well described, and the alien threat is particularly visceral and gruesome. [...] The book is cleverly structured to not give you time to take a breath as the danger intensifies. Sentences are kept very short and there are no chapter breaks, giving everything a sense of urgency and making it difficult to stop reading and put down. [...] The short length works to its advantage and means that the action and peril never let up. [...] Harvest Festival certainly delivers. I thought it was great!"
-- Ed Ryder, Goodreads (12th September 2016)
"Creepy and disturbing. Mr. Drinkwater did a great job setting the scenes and making me feel for the family in the story. His characters were vividly written and had great chemistry."
-- Sergio, Goodreads (3rd September 2016)
"A nail-biting alien abduction story that takes you through a single night of terror in the two hours or so it takes to read."
-- Brock, Amazon (28th August 2016)
"Harvest Festival is a sci-fi horror set in the Welsh countryside. The story follows a farmer and his family as they suffer through an ordeal reminiscent of a Dalek invasion from Doctor Who, only far worse."
-- Ruth, Goodreads (19th August 2016)
"I didn't dare put it down. Steady suspense and likeable characters kept me in their story, worried for them and cheering them on to the bitter end."
-- s.redman, Amazon (1st August 2016)
"I read this book in a day, during the day, and I kept looking out the window to see if the sun was still out and to make sure there were no clouds. Its sad and happy and I didn't want it to end so quickly :( But it is a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to be creeped out and freaked out :)"
-- Jared Mann, Goodreads (31st July 2016)
"Gripping and realistic. I was sucked in despite horror/sci-fi not being my usual genre. Callum and Cerys are real people caught in an unreal situation, and their reactions are what made the premise feel authentic. [...] blue light and sewing machines are going to haunt me for a loooooong time now."
-- Pat Lee, Amazon (26th July 2016)
"This is a great sci-fi/horror novella that I read in one sitting. Without giving any details away, I enjoyed the way it built on an old idea, and added its own twist. I particularly liked the way the characters developed, in particular the father - a reluctant hero. His observations about his changing relationship with various members of his close family were the best parts of the book for me. [...] As the twist at the end starts looming, I was hoping that the author wasn't going to 'go there'. He did. As a reader, I'm glad; as a father/husband, I wish he hadn't."
-- Andy Graham, Goodreads (23rd July 2016)
"I was really creeped out [...] The story is incredibly well written and it was a very easy read. The characters are also very well fleshed out even though this is a short story. I felt that I really got to know the whole family really well and understood their motivations and actions. I particularly liked Callum the main character, he seems like your normal dad and husband who does what he needs to protect his family. I really enjoyed this story and I flew through it holding my breath when the action started, waiting to see what would happen next. I would recommend both Harvest Festival as a story on its own, but the whole of They Move Below as the stories and the writing is just all so good."
-- Life of a Nerdish Mum (14th July 2016)
"I really should read more novellas you get straight into the action, I think the author done a great job with the characters especially Callum I was really rooting for him, I'm definitely going to read more by Karl Drinkwater after reading this."
-- Rhian, Goodreads (4th July 2016)
"the fun is in the unknown in this one [...] What begins as a picture of a typical family scene soon flips into a terrifying fight for survival. I enjoyed how the author took time to ensure we cared about Callum and his family before the peril kicks in. Once the danger had arrived the pace picked up and remained relentless. Harvest Festival was a straight through, single sitting read. I really enjoyed where the author took the story and the finale left me hoping Callum’s family would come through unscathed"
-- Grab This Book (4th June 2016)
"This is the first book I have read by this author and it certainly will not be the last. Harvest Festival is a novella that took me literally about an hour to read as I was that engrossed in the story. [...] I love how the story starts off lulling you into a false sense of security. As a reader whose a wife and mother, I could easily envision the seemingly normality of the sense of family life written in the novel. All that changes though when weird ongoings are happening in the sky and Callum discovers some horrific findings on his farm. As the family have to run for their lives I felt like my heart was in my mouth. I could very much feel the fear that the family were feeling and as a parent my maternal instinct was kicking in and shouting at Callum and Cerys to get their family to safety. This is certainly not a novel you want to read just before going to bed. It literally had me on the edge of my seat. I found it to be a very tense read that scared, yet thrilled me. A great read for any horror lovers."
-- Sarah Hardy, ByTheLetterBookReviews (25th May 2016)
"From the moment Callum wakes in the middle of the night sweating the action is spellbinding. The isolation of the setting, the dreamlike quality to events and ignorance to what is truly happening lends suspense and terror to each and every precaution Callum tries to make to protect his family. Reading this in bed at night my heart was pounding and every muscle tense as I willed the family to safety and even when I thought they had a chance, Karl adds more to the terror [...] from the very beginning of the story, Karl hooked in my emotions [...] which led me to continue thinking about the story long after I had finished reading it. [...] Fast paced and with events that will freeze your blood, Harvest Festival is a sci-fi/horror story that most people will be able to identify with ... underlying themes of loyalty, unconditional love and facing your worst nightmares as a team will be understood by many. [...] If Harvest Festival is representative of the rest of the stories in the collection, readers are in for one hell of a ride."
-- Shaz Goodwin, Jera's Jamboree (2nd May 2016)
"Another scary-good offering from Karl Drinkwater, Harvest Festival combines the best of sci-fi and horror. Packed full of action and nail-biting suspense, it will leave you sleeping just a little less soundly, and perhaps a bit wary of blue-tinted lighting. [...] If you like horror, get this novella. If you like sci-fi, get this novella. If you are a fan of Tufo's zombies, get this novella. There are no zombies here, but there is something just as gruesome and frightening."
-- Sara Smolarek, Goodreads (10th April 2016)
"You will definitely read this book in one sitting. Everything is going really fast but you can't expect anything else from this apocalyptic story. I really liked the beginning of the action, it kept me in constant tension and really played with my imagination. [...] It's a fun and intense read and you should definitely go for it, if you're looking for something that won't be brutal and disgusting but will give you chills."
-- Urszula, Goodreads (10th April 2016)