Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book review: Off Season

My introduction to Jack Ketchum’s Off Season (via Facebook message) went a little something like this:

So, blah, blah read this book and it made him nauseous, poop his pant, loose his shit . . . etc - no one will read the book - we thought you might be interested. LOL He says it's short but potent. Ruthless in fact. love ya

Made him poop his pants… how could I not be interested in a book that actually induced bouts of spontaneous defecation?

Needless to say, I was intrigued.

I scurried over to Amazon and paid the price of admission. Within minutes I was immersed in Ketchum’s world… a woman running through the woods, being chased—no, herded—by feral cannibalistic children. Whipped and toyed with to the point that she flings herself off a cliff and into the sea rather than face the fate they had planned for her.

We cut to Carla, a young single woman who rents a remote cabin in Maine for a month—a quiet place to work (she’s an editor) but we also get the impression it’s a bit of an escape. Carla’s personal life is complicated—a depressive, younger sister, a boyfriend she doesn’t love… an ex-boyfriend she does. She invites them all up from New York for the weekend; a quick getaway before she dives into work.

We meet an in-bred family—men and women and children—living in a cave set into the sea cliffs above the Maine shoreline. This is a family of hunters. They hunt people and they eat them.

Carla sees one of these men while waiting for her company to arrive. He’s walking along a river that runs near the cabin and she waves to him. We know almost instantly what fate awaits Carla and company and even though it takes a while to get there, once the ball starts rolling, it doesn’t stop. It keeps rolling, destroying everything and everyone in its path.

I won’t post spoilers because that’s not my style but I will say this…
This book is brutal. Viciously graphic. Unflinchingly grotesque. Unapologetically ruthless…and worth every penny.  In between recipes for man jerky (I swear it's in there) and how-tos for  human barbecue, Ketchum gives us some wonderful prose and a story about a woman who finds herself thrust into an unspeakably heinous situation and how she finds a strength she never knew she possessed.

p.s. DO NOT read this book if you are at all squeamish or sensitive to violence. I’m not kidding. Don’t even think about it.


  1. I will take your word on this book! I think it is too grotesque for me - however, I am certainly glad to have friends that are willing to read it and then soften the terror in the retelling!!

  2. not for the faint-of-heart... or even normal thinking people for that matter.