Monday, July 2, 2018

Book Review | Off Season by Jack Ketchum

Off Season is a horror novel by Jack Ketchum.

Off Season by Jack Ketchum

September. A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River—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...

And before too many hours pass, five civilized, sophisticated people and one tired old country sheriff will learn just how primitive we all are beneath the surface...and that there are no limits at all to the will to survive.


Off Season is about a woman who rents a cabin on the outskirts of town near the ocean. She has the house for a couple of weeks so she can get an editing project completed and spend some time vacationing and relaxing. Shortly after she gets to the house, her sister and some friends arrive to spend a few days with her in the cabin. Unfortunately for them, there's a group of savages in the area who live off the land and its inhabitants.

As much as I love Jack Ketchum’s writing, Off Season was a miss for me.

The first chapter jumped straight into the action, but it turned out to be much more of a prologue than an actual part of Off Season. I found myself whining for the action to return for the next 100 or so pages. I’d love to say those 100 pages were devoted to getting to know the characters in Off Season, but the setup to Off Season stayed at an extremely shallow level.

When the real action finally started, it was brutal and gory and relentless. I can see where extreme horror lovers would find things to enjoy in Off Season, but I simply didn’t care what was happening to anyone. Horror for horror’s sake just doesn’t do anything for me. I want to care about someone, something, anything. I didn’t have a reason to care other than just knowing it’s wrong for people to be tortured and eaten. The savages themselves were presented more as animals than humans so that actually eased the horror in my mind instead of enhancing it.

The only thing I enjoyed in Off Season was Ketchum’s writing. We have a limited supply of Ketchum novels now that he is gone so I will probably read the sequels to Off Season (Offspring and The Woman) at some point. If you are looking for a horror novel to get the adrenaline flowing, though, I wouldn’t recommend Off Season. Violent horror shouldn’t be so boring.

4/10: Not My Thing

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21 comments:

  1. I have noticed that if a horror story can't bring out the empathy in you, then it can be the most horrific horror story and best plot ever, and you're not going to get any traction. So sad this didn't work. It sounds like it was going to be a winner! Love that synopsis too... dang.

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    1. I think my taste in horror has changed over the years. I need that connection in there somewhere.

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  2. Oh no - not my thing at all. Shallow and horror packed. Nope, nope, nope.
    Lynn :D

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    1. Yeah - shallow and horror packed sums it up pretty well. :)

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  3. The part about the cabin on the outskirts of town near the ocean sounded good...but I wouldn't like the rest of it. Too bad he didn't spend more time on his characters.

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    1. Exactly, Lark. The character development was pretty much who used to date whom. It didn't interest me much.

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  4. Oh my gosh, I've heard some things about this one that make me scared to read it. Gore doesn't tend to bother me, but I don't know if I can deal with a book which uses it relentlessly. I'm also not a "horror for horror's sake" kind of reader.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I'm not bothered by gore either which is probably why the overall package of Off Season bored me even with the relentless horror.

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  5. This was actually about the only Jack Ketchum book that I did like! The follow up books to this one weren't that great for me.

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    1. Really? I'm curious as to whether you read the original cut version or the uncut version that I read. I've been told the original was 100 pages shorter. I may have taken to that one more than this version.

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  6. yeah.. I don't know about horror being for the sake of being horror I guess I can see that but I don't think I would enjoy it. Sorry it didn't work for you!

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    1. I'm still glad I read it. I just don't think it's one I'll ever recommend unless someone is looking for something very particular.

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  7. Is this the Leisure version? If so, I have it in my tbr. Bummer that it was so boring.

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    1. Yes, it's the leisure release. You should read it!! I know I said one comment above that I'll probably never recommend it, but here I am. LOL.

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  8. Aw that's a bummer. With a creepy premise like that plus cannibalism, it definitely sounds promising, although I'm not a huge fan of ultra violent either.

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  9. I don't think I've ever heard anyone call The Off Season boring! I have a copy but I've always been too scared to read it. I'm not sure why. It's considered a classic so now I'm curious.

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    1. I know! I wasn't expecting to be bored, but I think it was my flavor of bored. Things were happening, but I didn't care enough to be terribly interested.

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