Book Review - "Off Season," by Jack Ketchum

When you read this book, you have to take one thing into consideration, and that’s the year this book was originally released. Because new readers who pick this up might say, well there’s nothing new and original about this book. It’s got all the generic horror tropes. That is, unless they see when it was released.

If you are a fan of horror, this is required reading. This book invented a genre of horror unseen before. Yes, you’ve had books filled with blood and gore and all manners of grossness. And, those hold a special place in my heart as well. But this book takes that to a place no one had gone before.

Lets look at movies, because lets face it. Most people don’t read books, they wait for them to come out in theaters, and even they still might not catch them. Let’s look at Hostel. It’s a horror classic, an example of a great genre called splatter punk. Lots of blood, gore, torture, and the imagery I both horrific and strangely beautiful. But do you love the characters? Do you feel their plight, and cheer when they get away? I know I was kinda rooting for the bad guys, the protagonists were so unrelatable and annoying.

This book takes that deep, intense horror element, and brings it closer to home. It’s visceral, and yet personal. You love these characters. You love the older sister, and although you like the younger sister, you generally find them pleasing in just how ordinary they are. That the men are strong and attractive is only half of their appeal. They’re good, likable people. And no one deserves to have such macabre and terrible things brought to them. That’s the difference.

It’s a human element that you can taste and feel as the most unspeakable acts are played out in front of you. Jack Ketchum is a master of the human condition. He understands how to make you love, hate, and burn with anger. Through these perfectly crafted prose, he manages to manipulate your emotions, playing on that reptilian part of our brains to feel compassion for our protagonists, and contempt for the villains.

As I am a slow reader, I did the audiobook version of this and  I have to say, it's my favorite. The narrator is the perfect voice to tell this kind of story. He enunciates and emphasizes drama w. He also does a little bit of character voices throughout to hep tell people apart, and I have to say it's not over the top.

This book is mandatory reading for all fans of horror.