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Old Flames

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  686 Ratings  ·  74 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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Feb 02, 2015 Addy rated it it was amazing
The first story, Old Flames, is probably a 3 star read for me. It started off really good. The woman was like able before she spiraled down into some crazy, psychotic person. There was a part that stood out for me, maybe it was a turning point to her downward fall but it was really well written. I was expecting a little more violence, but Ketchum kinda stayed on the tame side. The ending wasn't memorable and could have been better but that was ok because the other novella, Right To Life certainl ...more
Edward Lorn
Feb 13, 2014 Edward Lorn rated it liked it
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
May 03, 2010 Kasia rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2017 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Love jack ketchum and this was a good story loved the ending but at times felt like he threw some stuff in their just to take up space.
Melissa Helwig
Jun 08, 2008 Melissa Helwig rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
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
Gary Taylor
Feb 26, 2009 Gary Taylor rated it liked it
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
Aug 21, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
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
Jan 30, 2011 Maicie rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2011
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
Dec 14, 2008 Jenn rated it really liked it
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
William M.
Jun 29, 2011 William M. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror

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
J. Kent Messum
Mar 03, 2014 J. Kent Messum rated it liked it
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
Jan 28, 2009 Margery rated it did not like it
The reviews of this book were a far better read than the book.
Apr 25, 2008 Kristen rated it liked it
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
Jan 19, 2016 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark, thriller, e-book, 2016
Another day, another Jack Ketchum novella. Or possibly novel. It's hard to tell. Ladies' Night is classified as a novel, at 175 pages, but this one is classified a novella, at 180. Maybe it's about word count. Or maybe it's about whatever the publisher wants to call it to justify a given price point.

In Old Flames, we meet Dora, a woman who has poor luck with men. After her current beau jilts her, she has a chance encounter with a friend of hers from high school, who not only reminds her of Jim,
Oct 16, 2015 Dana rated it liked it
Repeat after me: Punctuation is our friend. Commas, especially, are very helpful. In Old Flames, Jack Ketchum may have run out of commas. Some sentences I have to read twice to understand.


The title story, Old Flames, is pretty decent. The usual psycho woman story you can watch on the Crime and Investigation channel. It wasn't boring, but it wasn't exciting either. Maybe a bit (or a lot) more manipulation on her part would have helped, like what the protagonist did in a bestselling novel I
Nov 04, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, thriller
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
Joe Ohlenbusch
Oct 19, 2011 Joe Ohlenbusch rated it liked it
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
Apr 07, 2014 Claudia rated it it was amazing
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
David jones
Aug 13, 2013 David jones rated it it was ok
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
May 04, 2014 Justin rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
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
Jun 19, 2014 Rob Boley rated it it was amazing
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
Stephen King recommended author and book. He says: "Who's the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum."
"He is, quite simply, one of the best in the business, on par with Clive Barker, James Ellroy, and Thomas Harris."
“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.”

"Remember Glenn Close as the bunny-boiler scorned in Fatal Attraction? Raise that to the 10th power and you get Dora Welles
Jun 13, 2010 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2015 Adamus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This was a good book with 2 stories. Old Flames was more of a 4 stars to me & Right to Life was 5. Both stories were very well written the plots were very real & that's one of the best qualities about Jack Ketchum his stories all seem so real & could happen to anybody. He writes horror that could be so real & the way he writes is so vivid. That's why he's my favorite horror writer. The story's could have been longer, but for even only being 200 pages they fit the story very well ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 02, 2012 chucklesthescot rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, horror, abandoned
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
Jan 30, 2009 Donald rated it liked it
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
Jun 28, 2008 Kim rated it liked it
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
Oct 07, 2008 Michael rated it liked it
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
Oct 26, 2009 Emma rated it liked it
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
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paced reading hor...: February 2015 Group Read - Old Flames 100% spoilers 93 21 Feb 23, 2015 07:47PM  
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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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