Off Season
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Off Season (Dead River Series)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  4,753 ratings  ·  367 reviews
When Off Season, a novel about horror and cannibalism in modern-day Maine, was first released in 1980, it took readers by storm and sold over 250,000 copies. However, the original edition was edited and content was removed from the story at the publisher's request. The whole effect of the book was deemed too intense, particularly the ending. The Overlook Connection Press h...more
Mass Market Paperback, 308 pages
Published June 2006 by Dorchester (first published 1980)
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American Psycho by Bret Easton EllisHaunted by Chuck PalahniukOff Season by Jack KetchumThe Girl Next Door by Jack KetchumExquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite
The Goriest Books Ever
3rd out of 228 books — 434 voters
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Best Horror Novels
113th out of 1,115 books — 3,424 voters


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Community Reviews

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Stephen
CANNIBALISM: A MORE BALANCED PERSPECTIVE

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 i...more
Dan Schwent
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...more
TK421
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.)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

(This recommendation must be clarified: I do not condone cannibalism in any form.)
Paul
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
Brainspotting
The Best Ears of Our Lives
Rashermum
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 Hurts (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...more
Maciek
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...more
Tressa
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...more
Edward Lorn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ⓑⓔⓣⓗ
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...more
Alex Gherzo
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...more
Kenny Murphy
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
William Thomas
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...more
Luke
Aug 23, 2013 Luke rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with a hard stomach
'The Hills Have Eyes' in book form.

As a reader, I have heard a lot about Jack Kethum's infamy over the years, yet I'd never gotten around to actually reading one of his novels. The closest I'd been to him was seeing about ten minutes of the movie version of 'The Girl Next Door' on cable one day. Despite being warned about the brutality and violence level, I still found myself shocked when reading this one, as it really is quite brutal.

The story here is one that you have probably seen in horror...more
J.A. Saare
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....more
William
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
Randolph Carter
Anyone reading this on a Kindle can go fuck themselves!

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 a...more
Tim Mayer
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
Tee Jay
Quite ridiculous—like really stinking ridiculous. This is a terrible abomination of a read, a book that, for all intents and purposes, can be characterized as Misogynistic Torture Porn rather than “horror.” There was no redeeming quality to this title whatsoever. Jack Ketchum’s Off Season is absolutely abhorrent on every level and has the essence of bile incarnate.

The only horror I felt was at the end of the novel when I realized I actually paid for such drivel.
Marc-Antoine
Disturbingly well done.
Leah
Rating: 4 of 5

For what it's intended to be, Off Season succeeds; thus, I rate it four stars.

If I was rating purely on my personal (yes subjective) level of enjoyment, I'd rate it somewhere around two and a half stars.

Perhaps I should've waited longer to experience Ketchum's Dead River world, having just read The Woods Are Dark and The Pines only last year. Both of those novels also featured inbred backwoods cannibals. Though I found Ketchum's writing more absorbing - I was on the edge of my seat...more
Duane
Off Season - Unexpurgated Hard Cover Edition is without a doubt the most brutal and unrelentingly shocking novel I have ever read. If you want to visualize its dark spirit in pure cinematic language, picture The Hills Have Eyes coupled with Deliverance, with a good measure of Night of the Living Dead (although the killers are not undead, they can only be considered human in the most general of terms) thrown into the bloody mix. Yet the violence is so graphically visceral and realistic that it ca...more
Kasia S.
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
William M.
Off Season is one of the most savage and brutally graphic novels I've ever read -- right up there with Edward Lee's TERATOLOGIST and Richard Laymon's IN THE DARK. This book is right up there with Ketchum's other masterpiece, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.

I loved the slow build up and the introduction of each character. By putting them on the same playing field, I never knew who the story would follow and who our protagonist would be. This made for a more suspenseful read because I didn't know who the next...more
Joe Stamber
As Off Season begins, we are immediately introduced to a gang of ferals as they subject a woman to a terrifying chase through the woods after tricking her from her car. Then we meet Carla, an editor who has found the ideal secluded retreat to finish her latest book. Before she gets down to work, her boyfriend, sister, and a few other friends are paying her a visit to check out her hideaway. Hmm, city folk, secluded woods and a feral gang... oh-oh, sounds like a recipe for trouble! JK pulls no pu...more
Sena
This book was fantastic! It was my first book to read by Jack Ketchum, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. ....but, he went above and beyond what I was expecting. It was fast paced, had characters that I could connect to, had just enough twists to keep me on my toes, and had the gore that every horror story needs. :-) I have to admit that there were a few parts of the book that made my heart sink and i wanted nothing more than to rip out the page and pretend that it was never written. Howev...more
Magdalena
O my god what a disturbing book. There were moments when I dreaded to continue reading it because I just knew that things would go horrible 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 to 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 not...more
Maicie
I received the uncut, uncensored version of this book from PaperBackSwap so my copy included the sausage and man-jerky recipes! Yum.

I cringed while reading the afterword. Ketchum shares the process he went through to 'purtify' his work to satisfy the all-knowing editors at Ballantine. Tsk. It is akin to giving birth and the Ob-Gyn performs plastic surgery so your newborn will look just like the Gerber baby. Double tsk.

Also included the short story "Winter Child." Kids will eat the darnedest thin...more
Peter
Die Geschichte dreht sich rund um eine kleine, alles andere als dicht besiedelte Stadt in Amerika. Verständlich erklärt kann man sich sehr gut in das Städtchen hinein fühlen.

Ketchum lässt im Verlauf des kurzen Büchleins zwei Welten aufeinander prallen: die in Depression und Gedankenwirrwar feststeckende Zivilisation gegen die rohe Gewalt von Urmenschen. Oder auch das ewig Plappernde und Selbstverliebte gegen Hunger und Selbsterhaltung. Er veranschaulicht dies exemplarisch in dem Aufeinandertref...more
Daniel Russell
Fast-paced and sickening in places. Not the deepest of books, but how many books on hill-dwelling cannibal clans are going to make you reassess the way you live? Actually...

If I wrote a book about hill-dwelling cannibals, this would be it. Also has a nifty 'behind the publishing scenes' from the entertaining Mr Ketchum (and with some of the censoring problems this book originally had, I commiserate!) and the bonus short, Winter's Child is a damn fine read.
Dawn
Feb 27, 2009 Dawn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in: good horror, blood n' guts, cannibal hillbillies
Plot: City folk travel to rural Maine for a relaxing weekend at a cabin in the woods. Cannibal hillbillies invade and do just what you'd imagine cannibal hillbillies would do.

More tidbits about the book: The story is told in real-time and takes place over the course of about 12 hours. WARNING: it is extremely graphic in terms of violence and gore. Jack Ketchum writes in a very minimalist style, which in my opinion adds to the frightful story. His bare bones, straightforward approach to storytel...more
Christie
There’s no way to describe Jack Ketchum’s book, Off Season other than to call it torture porn. I was called out for this label, but I stand by it. It’s so gruesome, so over-the-top, it’s impossible to call it straight up horror.

This book caused quite a sensation way back in 1980 when it was first published. It was Ketchum’s debut novel and the editorial team at Ballantine wanted to make substantial changes to the book’s vivid (for lack of a better word) writing and pretty damn depressing denouem...more
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Horror Aficionados : Off Season by Jack Ketchum *Spoilers* 34 47 Nov 23, 2013 09:04PM  
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90070
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
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