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.