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Off Season (Dead River Series #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,468 Ratings  ·  474 Reviews
A family of savage murderers preys on unsuspecting tourists on a small island off the coast of Maine.
ebook, 134 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Dorchester Publishing (first published 1980)
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While I really liked this book, I feel compelled to make a few introductory remarks before I discuss the specific merits of the story. I will give Mr. Ketchum the benefit of the doubt and say that I do not believe it was his intention in writing this book to come across as a snobby, elitist, “anti” cannibal bigot. However, the fact remains that this novel is yet another example of popular media perpetrating the negative stereotype of cannibalism. I feel
Dan Schwent
Mar 20, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
An editor goes to a remote cabin in Maine to get away from things and work on editing her latest assignment. When her boyfriend and a group of friends arrive, they think they're going to have a relaxing week. Instead, they get a night of hell!

As part of my continuing education in horror, I decided to give Jack Ketchum a chance. Off Season was one of the works suggested to me by the crew.

Off Season is a tale of feral cannibals setting upon a cabin full of city folk in the Maine woods. That's pret
Paul Bryant
Ten ways to review Off Season, a book about cannibals!!

1. Let's go to the movies with Jack Ketchum

Some Like them Hot
Stir the Right One In
The Incr Edibles
Bringing Up Baby
The Best Ears of Our Lives
The Green Bile
No Recipe for Old Men

(this could go on)

2. Off Season, the Musical

He Will Tear us Apart (sung by Laura)
Everybody Spurts (sung by the chief cannibal)
Stir it Up (sung by his female companion)
Oops! I Did it Again! (sung by the chief cannibal)
All I have to Eat is Spleen (an
Mar 30, 2011 TK421 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be one of the most disturbing novels I have ever read. Enough said. (Although, I cannot agree with the previous establishment of rating this novel as "violent pornography". In my estimation, if more horror writers took half the amount of chances in thier work as Ketchum does in his, this genre might be more respected.)


(This recommendation must be clarified: I do not condone cannibalism in any form.)
Jan 09, 2016 Magdalena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god what a disturbing book. There were moments when I dreaded to continue reading it because I just knew that things would go horribly fucked up with a lot of gore. And it did. This is not the kind of books I usually read and I honestly don’t know if I want to read more of its kind. Not that the book was bad, it was good, just a bit too disgusting for my taste I must admit. I prefer paranormal horror that makes you wonder if you should check under the bed and the closet before you sleep no ...more
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust
My thanksgiving feast will now consist of pepto shots, saltine crackers and fruit flavored tums. Uncle Stevie wasn't kidding.

Job well done Mr. Ketchum.. .

Apr 04, 2009 Tressa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
For me, this is the horror book to end all horror books. It is the apex of terror tales. No book has come close to topping Off Season, and I doubt that any ever will.

In a rural area off the coast of Maine live a tribe of cannibals. Over the decades travellers and townspeople have disappeared here, but these have been chalked up to the nature of an increasingly mobile, exploding population. People disappear every minute all over the world, don't they?

The tension begins immediately and never lets
Jul 22, 2015 Kirstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Off Season was akin to reading "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I love that movie and I had a blast with this book. My first Ketchum novel was better than I expected. Highly enjoyable for fans of over the top gore. 4 stars!
Mar 25, 2012 Maciek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, read-in-2012
The biggest flaw of Off Season is its publishing date - 1980. As it was a debut novel, the publishing house had quite a lot of power over the author, and made him cut and edit the book the way they wanted. Upon publication the book raised extreme controversy, due to its violent and graphic nature. It got so bad that Ballantine, who initially published the novel, decided to stop supporting it and withtdrew it from circulation after the first printings.

In 1999 a small publishing house specialisin
Apr 30, 2016 José rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review en español: Click aquí
Traduje este y otros libros. Si te interesa, puedes chequear esta sección en mi blog.

I had to take a break after finishing this book, it was really intense. It's probably one of the most gory, violent and insane horror books I ever read.

This is a story about how a group of friends is attacked by a family of mad cannibals, so you can expect a lot of disturbing scenes on this book. Even though I have read other splatterpunk books I have to say that some scenes of this
May 03, 2010 Kasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Ketchum book and I cannot wait to read the follow up to Off Season, chillingly called Offspring. This tale is pretty simple as it deals with civilized humans and with some barbarians who speak and think but who choose to stalk and watch their prey before they make their surprise attack. This is not savagery fueled by regular hunger, this is deep and evil lust for causing pain and cruelty to the innocent in the most excruciating manners possible, this is the tale of the Off Seas ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2016
I can see why this book was a bit of a game changer in 1980. I'm glad I got to read it in the format intended by the author (albeit still not the original manuscript, which no longer exists) instead of the cleaned-up version. Warning: It is graphic and even this seasoned reader of horror novels winced several times! Some "gross" books have zero story line and bore me to tears. This one had a simple plot, but it was still engaging because the characters...even the CRAZY cannibals...were skillfull ...more
Edward Lorn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Randolph Carter
Mar 21, 2015 Randolph Carter rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fiction
I don't know what to say about this. It was the unexpurgated edition. I suppose for it's time it was shocking, but it seems a little dated now. It is the lost cannibal tribe slasher cabin in the woods formula. I saw all the explicit grue, rape, sex, and pedophilia as just filler. A little less would have still gotten the message of how inhumanely we treat each other, and if you look at it it only drives the plot early on, after the initial attack; then it's thrill filler, ho hum. It seems that o ...more
Paul O'Neill
Jul 05, 2015 Paul O'Neill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Thomas
Mar 27, 2011 William Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I am a horror movie fanatic. I love horror movies- from cinematic masterpieces like Halloween to ultra B-rate movies like Dreamaniac and Terror Firmer. It doesn't matter. I love horror.

But I'm starting to think I only really love horror when it is on my TV. I think that I only like it when I am watching it. Because lately I have been on a horror book kick (a genre I avoided mostly out of some silly snobbishness) and I just do not love any of them in the same way that I love horror movies.

And I
J.A. Saare
Nov 23, 2011 J.A. Saare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They had hunted every animal, but there was no flesh like man's...

Wowza. I haven't read this book in years, so I was excited to pick up The Unexpurgated edition and give it a go. Violent, dark, and relentless, Off Season is a book you won't forget. As an advisory: If you dislike horror, torture, and depravity you might want to avoid this one. Off Season is not for the faint of heart and no one is spared -- not women, not innocents, and certainly not children.

Also, this is the first novel by Mr.
Mar 02, 2014 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I prefer this original and would not have wanted to read this book in any other form, its a shame that an author does not get more say/control of a final release seeing as they wrote the book to be a certain way at the start. Why do publisher even bother to agree to release a book if the plan on that much editing before release, just say no and let the author try somewhere else pfft.

Fantastic story with liable characters and plenty of gore, anyone who loves horror should jump right in and give t
Alex Gherzo
Oct 14, 2012 Alex Gherzo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King once said: "“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud." In Off Season, Jack Ketchum does all three and does them extremely well (no wonder King is a big fan and supporter). I don't think I've ever read a book as unsettling as this.

Carla, a book editor from New York City, rents a house in the rural Maine
Kenny Murphy
Apr 25, 2011 Kenny Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After watching the films "The Girl Next Door", and "Offspring", both film adaptions based on novels by Jack Ketchum, I decided to buy a couple of his books. This is horror fiction is on a totally different level than the more mainstream Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ann Rice stuff people are used to reading. Back in 1980 when this book was first published, it was condemned for being "violent pornography", Ketchum was even forced to edit a few of the more graphic parts of the story. I recommend get ...more
Sue Jordan
I had previously read “The Girl Next Door” by Jack Ketchum, so I was very well aware of what I was getting myself into with this book. It definitely did not disappoint. I will admit, after 38% of the e-book had gone by without too much excitement, I was beginning to wonder just when all hell was gonna break loose. But oh man, after that the fecal matter finally hit the proverbial fan……..and the blood…intestines…brain matter…and other sundry body parts. Once I got to that point, it was pretty muc ...more
Tim Mayer
Jul 30, 2012 Tim Mayer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ran across Jack Ketchum's name years ago in the way of an interview. I was a little perturbed there existed a modern horror writer with a substantial output whom I knew nothing about. It took me years to find a book by him- The Lost-but afterwards I was hooked. I managed to see most of the film versions of his books (did think The Lost for screen was a little on the weak side, but you can't have everything). I avoided the first published novel, Off-Season, because I felt the subject matter (Ba ...more
Jan 05, 2014 Kaisersoze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a long time coming, but I finally got to sit down over the last weekend of my holidays and have a look at what many - including Stephen King - were crowing about: Jack Ketchum's Off Season. Luckily, it was The Unexpurgated Edition that I read, as this was the way Ketchum intended his novel be published - a fact he heavily emphasises time and again in the interesting Afterword he included here.

The most basic of plot rehashes then for a novel that's already infamous: Mayhem ensues when a gr
Adam Light
Sep 24, 2012 Adam Light rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of extreme horror
Recommended to Adam by: Evans Light
So I had high expectations going when I opened this book up and began to read. I have read only one other Ketchum book entitled The Crossings. That one was a western that would have been great as a Sam Peckinpah movie. I can't believe I never got wind of Ketchum until recently, as he has been writing since the early eighties if not longer.

I'm happy I discovered Ketchum. He is a writer with no apologies regarding the extreme and often stomach turning violence within his novels. This was his first
Feb 14, 2009 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easily one of the most brutal books I have read. I did read the version that was unbutchered by the editors. The pace was fast and easily read in a day. I do not cringe at gore and in some books I feel gore is placed just for the shock value and does not add to the pleasure of the story. I do not feel that was the case here. I feel that the brutality envisioned was necessary to explain the intense circumstances these people were placed in. The story does place doubt in my mind to whether I will ...more
JL Martin
I don't know. Thought it would be better. I remember loving it when it was released in 81. I find this uncut version to be overall flat. Love the gore and action sequences but the characters seem flat. Difficult to root for either one of them.
kostas  vamvoukakis
επος...απλα καταπληκτικο...θελεις να το πεταξεις αλλα δεν ξεκολλας...
Dec 31, 2013 Marc-Antoine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, horror
Disturbingly well done.
Will Errickson
I read 'Off Season' in one go; it's got a merciless propulsion to it, a sense of doom that will not be avoided, like a clockwork collision course. The novel, first pub'd in 1981 (the edition I read) can be seen as an ur-text for the horror genre in that it reduces all fears to their simplest form. Its style of unrelentingly grim violence and despair comes aspect from its adherence to the structure and style of films like 'Night of the Living Dead,' 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' 'The Hills Have Eyes ...more
Quentin Wallace
Nov 27, 2015 Quentin Wallace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first read from Jack Ketchum, and now I wonder what I was waiting on! From what I'd heard about Ketchum, I had an idea he was all gore and sex without much story beneath. Not sure exactly what gave me that impression, but his subject matter just seemed to indicate such. However, I seem to have been wrong.

This was a really strong and horrifying tale about modern day cannibals in Maine. (Between Ketchum and King, Maine sounds like a bad place!) It was gory but I really never saw it as
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Horror Aficionados : Off Season by Jack Ketchum *Spoilers* 34 59 Nov 23, 2013 09:04PM  
  • Survivor
  • The Summer I Died (The Roger Huntington Saga, #1)
  • Flesh Gothic
  • The Killing Kind
  • The Resurrectionist
  • The Cellar
  • The Conqueror Worms
  • The Long Last Call
  • Dweller
  • The Jigsaw Man
  • Kin
Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk -- a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is per ...more
More about Jack Ketchum...

Other Books in the Series

Dead River Series (3 books)
  • Offspring: The Sequel to Off Season
  • The Woman

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