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Old Flames

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  529 ratings  ·  59 reviews
When her lover betrays her and dumps her coldly, Dora's mind begins to crack. She tracks down her old high school love to recapture what she might have had. He's married with a family, but Dora isn't about to let that stop her.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Leisure Books (first published May 25th 2008)
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Edward Lorn
This review is for OLD FLAMES, the first novella in a collection of two. I will be reviewing RIGHT TO LIFE, the second story, at a later date. Something about Jack Ketchum bothers the hell out of me. I have to take a long break between his books. If you've read anything by him, you probably know what I'm talking about.

Ketchum does crazy people well. He can make you empathize with the nuttiest of squirrel bait. In this story we follow a scorned woman on her quest to find an old flame of hers, hen
...more
J. Kent Messum
Let's get something out of the way first... Ketchum can write, there's no doubt about that. This book was a good read, two novellas for the price of one, but for me one of those novellas was far better than the other. 'Old Flames' is new take on an old faithful, and a refresher that made me fearful of a woman's scorn once again.

You get the impression that the second novella, 'Right To Life', was thrown in for good measure. It leaned greatly toward the torture porn side of things, a shock-value
...more
Maicie
First, a complaint. I am not usually hung up on grammar and punctuation errors. I make quite a few myself. But the editor of this book was asleep at the job. I think there were maybe 10 commas in the whole book. Better too many commas than too few. Consider the following:

An English teacher wrote these words on the whiteboard: “woman without her man is nothing.” The teacher then asked the students to punctuate the words correctly.
The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.”
The women wrote
...more
Kasia S.
After reading Ketchum's gross fest masterpiece "Off Season" and its sequel "Offspring" I was always under the impression that his works were all about psychical terror, tearing out limbs and such, but this novel surprised me, it gave me a glimpse of his writer's mind and the way he toys with stories and ideas. I am not saying that icky things aren't happening here, they are but along a different story line, this time the evil people are seemingly average folks and not cannibals who live in caves ...more
Melissa Helwig
Both novellas feature strong female characters. One as an antagonist and one as a protagonist. Old Flames is about a recently dumped woman, Dora, who uses a service called Flame Finders to find her high school sweetheart. To her dismay, he is married and has children. But that won't stop Dora from staking her claim. It's Fatal Attraction for the 00's. With so many people now looking up old flames and friends via Facebook and MySpace readers can easily relate.

This novella moves quickly and had me
...more
Gary Taylor
This edition of "Old Flames" reminds me of the days when movie theaters offered double features because it actually contains two novellas by Jack Ketchum, who has been dubbed the "scariest man in America" by Stpehen King.

"Old Flames" is the title of the new, first novella in the duet but it is followed by a reprint of another Ketchum novella called "Right to Life."

If there is any common theme for the two books, it would turn on the presence of a strong female lead in both. "Right to Life" is a
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Jenn
Dec 23, 2008 Jenn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: my brother; gory horror lovers
Again, I have to question the choice of titles. This was the shorter of the two novellas/short stories in the book. Until I started reading I didn't see that there were two stories. I thought there was only one. Not that it matters. I read somewhere after that the first story was newly written and the last story was wriiten many years ago. I had never read either story so that was fine by me. I also read that there were quite a few comparisons with "Right to Life" and "The Girl Next Door." I hav ...more
Claudia
We all have a desire to be loved and when the people we love don't love us back or don't love us in the way we feel we deserve to be loved, it is a terrible disappointment. Having just spent several months dealing with the fallout from a breakup that I didn't see coming, this book resonated in some less than acceptable ways. Quite simply, I loved it. Watching Dora spiral deeper into madness--I think she was always a little off kilter--made me feel a bit more normal. The daydreams I entertained w ...more
Justin
This was my first book by Jack Ketchum. It contains two novellas, Old Flames and Right to Life. Both feature strong female leads. In Old Flames, Dora who has a mistrust of men, decides to reconnect with her old high school sweetheart, but she goes to extreme lengths to do so. In Right to Life, Sara is kidnapped from an abortion clinic and then subject to gruesome torture. I thought both novellas were comparable. I didn't prefer one over the other. I found Ketchum's writing to be easy to follow, ...more
Rob Boley
Old Flames is a wicked tale about a twisted woman, Doras, in the wake of a break-up who sets her sights on rekindling a romance with a high school sweetheart. With the help of a detective agency, she tracks down this man and plots a methodical takeover of his life and family. One of my favorite things about this story is that there’s no single point wherein the reader realizes just how unhinged Doras is. Instead, as the story progresses, we witness just how far she’s willing to go. Hint: It's pr ...more
Joe Ohlenbusch
This contained Old Flames which should be a short story, not a novel, and Right To Life. This book was very brutal, to the point, and somewhat overtly sexual. Old Flames was a great premise for a suspense story and it was written well. Ketchum does a good job at switching viewpoints at very good times to give the reader a greater sense of horror. The scariest thing about Ketchum is how he writes the very brutal parts in his stories. There doesn't seem to have much emotion in it and it makes it f ...more
John
A compilation of two entertaining but mediocre novellas from "extreme" writer Jack Ketchum. The first novella, OLD FLAMES, feels like yet another FATAL ATTRACTION rip-off, only rather less predictable than one might expect. Ketchum tries to infuse the story with some depth but ultimately fails to overcome the inherent schlockiness of the story's premise. As for the second novella, RIGHT 2 LIFE, just how many times does Ketchum plan on writing about a girl being kidnapped by some twisted family a ...more
Cynthia
Okay, anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of Ketchum's work—The Lost being one of my favorites. With this book, Ketchum delivers two captivating novellas, Old Flames and A Right to Life.

Old Flames is a story of obsession that ends tragically. The female lead, Dora, is a nut-job. It's obvious within the first few pages that she's a bit unhinged and it only gets worse from there. Moral of the story—if you run into an old flame, leave it in the past where it belongs!

The second story is A Right
...more
David jones
This book I didn't like all that much. It was a book of novellas, and the first novella was alright but it was kinda confusing to me. The characters were good and the plot was alright, but I didn't like the writing style because there were too many run-ons I guess. The first story was called old flames and like I said it was alright, but not very good at all. I would rate that story 3 out of 5 stars.
The second novella was right to live and I didn't like it because it disturbed the shit out of me
...more
Kristen
In reviewing this book let me tell you first of all that it is actually two novellas, I did not know that when I acquired it so I was a bit shocked when the first one ended and half the book was still left. The book is well written, as are all of Ketchum's novels, however I didn't feel that this was one of his better novels. It will always be hard to top "The Girl Next Door" but I felt myself very distanced from this book.

The first and title story is "Old Flames" where Dora who has been through
...more
Trevor Firetog
I am a very big fan of Jack Ketchum. While the novella "Old Flames" was pretty good, I must say that the lack of punctuation made for a very difficult read! Someone didn't do their job right. There were hardly any commas. It was almost impossible to get through.

That being said, it had all the same cold-heartedness that you've come to expect from a Ketchum book.
William M.
4 AND 1/2 STARS

If you have ever dated someone who you felt was unstable, imagine that person a dozen times worse and bent on revenge, using every ounce of their energy to invade your life and destroy everything around you. This is the main character, Dora Welles, of Jack Ketchum's new novella, Old Flames. True, the book is quite short, but that doesn't take away from this chilling tale of one woman's quick decent into madness and revenge. Ketchum uses clean, beautiful prose with a stunningly im
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Debra
Stephen King recommended author and book. He says: "Who's the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum."
and
"He is, quite simply, one of the best in the business, on par with Clive Barker, James Ellroy, and Thomas Harris."
and
“Ketchum has become a kind of hero to those of us who write tales of horror and suspense. He is, quite simply, one of the best in the business.”

and
"Remember Glenn Close as the bunny-boiler scorned in Fatal Attraction? Raise that to the 10th power and you get Dora Welles
...more
Kate
Nov 24, 2008 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: horror
Ketchum specializes rather fantastically in the psychotic serial killer. This particular volume is actually two stories. The first is filled with gratuitous sex, violence, psychosis, and murder. It’s a light fun romp.

The second, “Right to Life,” has a bit more of a message and is in the end a bit more optimistic, but it manages to not be moralistic or preachy. It helps that the main character in this one isn’t the psychotic one.

While in “Old Flames” evil triumphs, in “Right” good triumphs and tr
...more
chucklesthescot
This novella was so boring and longwinded that it nearly sent me to sleep. It is the story of a woman whose partner cheats on her and dumps her, and she starts to think about her first real love. When she finds out where he is, she is determined to get back in his life whether he likes it or not.

Well that is what the blurb says. I never even got to her seeing Jim again before I abandoned this. It was page after page of Dora's ramblings, her weekend fling with a man she meets after she was robbed
...more
Jim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
I guess the book is titled "Old Flames" because that's the new story/novella, but it's the shorter of the two in the book. 1998's "Right to Life", which I've seen as a Cemetery Dance release, but had never read previously, is the other, longer part of the book.

Old Flames wasn't bad, but it was a little cliched--a pretty standard Fatal Attraction style story.

Right to Life is better, but it feels like a retread Ketchum's superior and far more disturbing Girl Next Door.

3 stars because Ketchum's a s
...more
Donald
Well, I liked half of it! There are actually two stories in this book, and I liked one of them - a lot! I did not like the title story, Old Flames, at all. It was boring and with no surprises and the end was terrible. However, the bonus novella, Right To Life, is awesome! I was freaked out the whole time! Very well written!

So, as this is my first Jack Ketchum book, I don't know what to think. He's either a terrible writer (Old Flames) or one of the best I have read (Right to Life). I guess I'll
...more
Kim
Although this book had some exciting and unpredictable moments, I found most of it to be too cliche. If it were made into a movie, it would most likely air on Lifetime. I think that about says it all. I did like the lack of explanation to Dora's childhood because it does leave it up to the reader, but most of her personality was predictable once the plot sets in motion. Not one of my Ketchum favorites, but Right to Life is WONDERFUL! I read it for the second time when I finished Old Flames. I ju ...more
Emma
Oct 26, 2009 Emma rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: horror fans
Recommended to Emma by: No one
Shelves: horror, jack-ketchum
First off, this book contains two novellas.

"Old Flames" was slightly disappointing in that it was predictable. I guess the ending went a slightly different way to the usual Fatal Attraction or Hand That Rocks the Cradle type stories we're used to, but everything up until the climax is pretty cliche.

"Right to Life", I would say, is probably the better of the two. Sometimes it was over the top and felt like maybe it was some left-overs from "The Girl Next Door".

Overall, not bad for a rainy weekend
...more
Trudi
Not crazy about this latest Ketchum novel. The featured bonus novella Right To Life is especially gruesome, 150 pages of "torture porn" -- not my thing. Ketchum is such a talented writer, there's no doubt about that but I felt like this latest effort was simply gratuitous for no good reason, unlike The Girl Next Door, which while horrific and also about torture, still had heart and empathic characters.
Donald
This is one of a thousand signed limited edition copies.

In 'Old Flames' Jack delves into the human psyche as a few screws work loose while dealing with rejection. The main character, Dora, seeks out an old beau she felt was the 'one' after a break-up. But the old beau has a life of his own, with a wife and kids.

With each slip of the cogs of reason, Dora slowly loses it. It is an excellent story line believably told.
Bandit
There is a certain vividness to Ketchum's writing, the way his characters just jump off the page and into one's mind and stay there and this book is a fine example of that. Shorter and less disturbing than say The Girl Next Door, it still packs quite a punch. 4.5 stars all the way and highly recommended.
My copy of the book is a Cemetery Dance Editions, limited to 1000 copies and signed by author. Woohoo.
Crystal
Usually I can't put down Jack Ketchums books this one was no different. Although as I was reading this I was really into it and then wait...what it was over. I was about half way through and it was over and going into another story. I didn't know but it also had the book right to life in it. I didn't really enjoy the fact that the book didn't say it included both but overall Old flames was a good read.
Newt cox
This is actually two novellas.The first one is "Old Flames" and isn't very good. I reads like a novelization of a Lifetime Original film. The second one "Right to life" is great. Nice tense setting,and fast paced. It almost makes up for how bad the first novella. It is also strange that "Right to Life" is the longer of the two,but the book is named after the shorter novella.
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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
More about Jack Ketchum...
The Girl Next Door Off Season The Lost Red Offspring: The Sequel to Off Season

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