Off Season: picked up at my local used bookstore, originally priced at $2.95, marked down to 25¢ in Sharpie, marked down again to a dime in that same uncaring hand. I paid two bucks as I'm guessing this copy has made its rounds. A ratty pocket paperback with a spine that is white with creases. This is all somewhat befitting. I’ve read a handful of Jack Ketchum tales and this is the only one I could describe as rough, and yet, despite the un-Ketchum-like bumps, it was an utter thrill ride.
This is one of those stories that seems to work on a strict word budget, casting aside much the who and the why, leaving only outlines, action, and blood trails.
A group of city folk head to the coast for a cottage vacation –cue the slasher film vibe– unaware that a squad of cannibals awaits its next meal.
A big piece to the fun in this one is that kiddies are the brunt of the horror crew looking for a bite. Innocent little ones always catch the unsuspecting off-guard.
One thing Jack Ketchum never shies away from is blunt force. No character is off-limits and every last soul you’ve come to hope see live through the terror runs the risk of beheading, bloodletting, rape, cooking on a stake, strung up, disemboweled, shot dead by the boys in blue.
At no point does Off Season veer from its path. It is pure suspense, gore, and shock. In these three, it excels. It is truly terrifying and unnerving. As for the bumps in the writing, that’s mostly by comparison to his later stuff, and it still beats the hell out of the average pocket horror.
Quick, simple, slick with blood, and unrelenting in suspense.