This is for you if you liked Off Season. Lots of Violence, gore, terrible stuff. Just when you want to fill your mind with creepy stuff because…. You are bored with your weekday!!
Offspring by Jack Ketchum
Offspring is a continuation of Off Season, but I like the Ketchum’s writing so much I used this book to bring me back to reading after a disappointing experience with a non-fiction book. Nothing like gore and violence to pull one back to reality.
Peter, the sheriff from Off Season is back, but he is not the sheriff. He has aged a lot and one of his former deputies is now sheriff. This is a good thing as Peter has devoted himself to alcohol, choosing it as a fill in exercise after his wife died.
The novel begins with a grisly murder scene. This causes the new sheriff to ask Peter for assistance. The crime scene suggests that the new murder is some type of copycat crime from years previous. During the previous crime, Peter went through a serious personal traumatic event; there might be redemption this time. Revealing what the event was would be a spoiler for the previous book.
All the characters have their own problems in their everyday lives that will be emphasized and played out in the gruesome new reality they are about to enter. There is an abusive husband, Steven, who does not confine his abuse to his wife. He will commit an ultimate betrayal of Claire, his wife.
David and Amy are a successful yuppie couple on the road to success. They are friends with Claire but not friends with Steven as they try to help Claire leave Stephen.
The hero of the story is Luke, the son of Claire and Stephen. He is very young to accomplish the physical feats described and this is where the novel approaches fantasy. But how can a novel avoid fantasy with creatures that have names like First Stolen, Second Stolen, Woman, Eartheater, Rabbit, and Cow, to name a few. The unusually named group are a set of sub-humans living in the wild and following a pagan belief that demands blood sacrifice. And they are cannibals. Contact between these two groups provide the horror.
The surprises in the book, setting aside gory scenes, come from the characters who die and the circumstances leading to their deaths. This is not a read for the squeamish. I find Ketchum’s novels a break in the routine of my To Be Read (TBR) books.