I get a couple of daily emails featuring free and discounted Kindle titles. A few weeks back, one listed Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon.
Here's the description --
After watching his asthmatic daughter suffer in the foul city air, Theodore Constantine decides to get back to the land. When he and his wife search New England for the perfect nineteenth-century home, they find no township more charming, no countryside more idyllic than the farming village of Cornwall Coombe. Here they begin a new life: simple, pure, close to nature—and ultimately more terrifying than Manhattan’s darkest alley.
When the Constantines win the friendship of the town matriarch, the mysterious Widow Fortune, they are invited to join the ancient festival of Harvest Home, a ceremony whose quaintness disguises dark intentions. In this bucolic hamlet, where bootleggers work by moonlight and all of the villagers seem to share the same last name, the past is more present than outsiders can fathom—and something far more sinister than the annual harvest is about to rise out of the earth.
It sounded right up my alley, so I checked to see if the library had a print copy. My book budget is limited, so if I can read their copy instead of buying it for myself, I usually will. It wasn't until I picked the book up from the reserve shelf that I realized what I had in my hands.
It's that book, the one that was on the shelf next to the encyclopedias when I was little! Until I had it in my hands, I'd totally forgotten how obsessed I used to be with that cover. I called and asked my mom about it -- she remembered the cover art, but nothing about the book itself. Of all the books she owned, that one was somewhere different...and unless childhood has distorted the memories, it was on that same shelf for years. It's kind of neat to finally know what that book was, now that I'm old enough to read.
As for the story, it was interesting in that sort of dated way that 1970s books have. I'm guessing that 40 years ago, the plot wouldn't have seemed so predictable. But reading it in 2013, when the family moves into a community with strangely old-fashioned ways an an eagerly anticipated ceremony....well you're not surprised when something bad happens. It reminds me of the original Wicker Man movie.