Monday, November 2, 2015

Off Season by Jack Ketchum

Title: Off Season

Author: Jack Ketchum

Published: Dorchester, 2006 (First published 1980)

Pages: 308

Summary: A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River, during off season; awaiting her sister and friends. Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fall.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: Lately I have been trying to find horror novels that don't have a supernatural element to them and I was recommended Jack Ketchum.  So, I decided to pick up Off Season, as it sounded like the most interesting of his books.  That being said, I did toss up between getting Off Season and his novel, The Lost.  In the end I decided to go with Off Season.

My version of the book is a new(ish) version of the original in which the graphic scenes that were apparently taken out in 1980 for being too disturbing.  However, it is explained in the authors afterword the changes that were made and it actually wasn't really that many changes.  

The version I read could have done with some serious editing.  At first there were just minor mistakes like a word being put in twice or words like their being used instead of they.  Then just over 100 pages in the main character Carla kept being referred to not only as Carla, but also has Carta and it got so bad that at one point, I was starting to wonder if perhaps there was someone else around called Carta.  It just annoyed me that there were so many editing mistakes as it really detracted from my reading experience.

So, this was recommended to me as a scary read and honestly it just was not scary.  It had more of a focus on the gore aspect, but at the same time it wasn't really gory.  Probably because this was published in the early 80s originally and I feel like gore has become a lot more gory since then.  I just felt like the atmosphere of the book wasn't scary.  That disappointed me as that was what I was really hoping for.

It took me longer to read Off Season than what I was expecting because I just found it pretty dull.  I kept going though because while I was looking for an entertaining horror novel, I was also studying this book to see how it was written and how it would end. 

I feel like I could say a lot more about how much this book annoyed me, but I feel like I've said enough, none of the characters interested me but I thought the afterword by the author did put a couple of things in perspective for me.  I'm just really disappointed that this book wasn't better, given all of the recommendations and praise I had seen for it.  I am still curious about Jack Ketchum's work so will perhaps pick up another of his books in the future.

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