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The Caretaker of Lorne Field: A Novel

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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  300 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Jack Durkin is the ninth generation of Durkins who have for nearly 300 years weeded Lorne Field. It's an important job, though no one else seems to realize it. For, if the field is left untended, a horrific monster called an Aukowie will grow.

Short listed by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010. Black Quill nominee for best dark genre book of the
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published August 26th 2010 by Overlook Books (first published February 4th 2010)
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Community Reviews

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karen
short and sweet, with a classic horror feel to it.

this reads like an episode of the twilight zone - one of the old classic ones, not one where kiefer sutherland flies a plane which i am realizing as i am typing this was actually an episode of amazing stories but i'm not even going to go back and fix it - it will be like you and i are having a conversation together over wine instead of this remove - this barrier of a review between us. cuz we are BFFAE.

so this book is about killer plants. so it m
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Ginger Nuts
for those of you who read my blog, you'll remember that Blood Crimes by Dave Zeltserman, was in my opinion a bloody good read. So how will I take to this my second exposure to Zeltserman, have I got the Zeltserman bug?

Caretaker tells the tale of Jack Durkin, who along with the previous eight generations of Durkins have protected the world from the all consuming threat of the Aukowie, ravenous plant creature that will destroy the world within days. That's if Durkin doesn't full fill his contract
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Kevintipple
There was a time when the position as the Caretaker of Lorne Field was a high honor. A position of respect that came with a small cottage, a decent salary and freebies given by the local residents out of appreciation for the very difficult job held by the Durkin family. After all, only due to the diligent weeding by the Caretaker were the relentless Aukowie held back from rampaging across the world.

But 300 years have passed and in these modern times, few have any respect for the position, the f
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Josh
Balancing delusion with duty, Zeltersman's protagonist is the victim of scorn and savour of man. Jack Durkin is honor bound by a 300 year old multi generational contract handed down from eldest son to eldest son to rid Lorne Field from weed-like monstrosities known as Aukowies. Every day from sun up to sun down and them some, Durkin is out on that field ensuring the townsfolk live another day, fore if he let the Aukowies reach their full potential, the rivers would soon run red with human blood. ...more
Woowott
I realize once again, I deviate from my fellow readers. I read a highly favourable review of this little book and thought it sounded utterly fascinating; and so, I grabbed it from the library when I saw it.

I'm glad I didn't buy it: It would have been a waste for me.

Essentially, you DO have a 'Twilight Zone' plot. Man weeds all day every day. Weeds are bad killer creatures. Everyone things man is insane. Bad things happen to man. Luck is against man. Man is accused of hurting son who went weeding
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Paul
The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a wonderfully weird, gritty, and pitch-dark legend, perfect for New England. Weaved in the compulsively readable narrative is a heavy dose of our current society's meanness, unease, and ambiguity: kind of a nightmare-noir zeitgeist. The thing of it is, the reader is never safe in Dave Zeltserman's hands. I love that. You should too.
George Mahaffey
A possibly unreliable narrator, a rural town, an ancient pact, a terrible secret. In concept, "The Caretaker of Lorne Field" is "Frailty" meets "The Ruins" (with a hint of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” thrown in for good measure). The story centers on Jack Durkin, a man who quite literally carries the weight of the world on his shoulders while laboring as a town caretaker – just as his family has done for centuries – divesting a unique field of what the outside world believes are weeds. But Ja ...more
Jessi
First Line: "Jack Durkin let out a groan as his wife, Lydia, dropped a bowl of corn flakes in front of him."

This is not the blood-and-guts type of horror. In fact, the author is quite crafty at making the reader wonder if it is in fact horror or the ravings of a delusional man up until the last moment of the book. Jack Durkin and his ancestors for the last 300 years have worked themselves to the bone digging up carnivorous plants that can grow into giant man-eating monsters if allowed to go unch
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Gef
Some small towns, particularly the ones with a long history, tend to have some lingering traditions and legends that border on the bizarre. In Dave Zeltserman's The Caretaker of Lorne Field, a groundskeeper tends a field in the middle of the woods, pulling what appear to be weeds, from the spring thaw until the first frost--every single day. His name is Jack Durkin, the Caretaker of Lorne Field, a hallowed position in town that was his birthright and has been the responsibility of every eldest s ...more
Tim Niland
Zeltserman is best known for his Boston area noirs like Pariah and Small Crimes, but he throws a bit of a curveball here, moving into Stephen King like psychological horror. From time immemorial, the eldest son of the Durkin family became the caretaker of a large field near a small New England town. The caretaker was responsible for weeding the Aukowies, vicious weeds which, if left unchecked, would grow into monsters and set forth on a path of world domination. Jack Durkin dutifully goes about ...more
Evan Jensen
Overall, this feels like a story from Weird Tales. From 1938. Aside from a few instances of modern background setting/props, the atmosphere of this small town horror tale, the interactions of its characters, and the contest of "the horrible unknown universe vs. humans/civilization" that lurks behind each page all feel like something dated.

It may be an homage to older horror tales, which I can get behind, but the tired tropes that are the first thing you read on page one... they bored me terribly
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Leslie
This month our library genre was horror. After having read King, Koontz, etc. in earlier years I wasn't in the mood for more. Thank you NoveList Plus for having a variety of suggestions! The description of this book intrigued me, although I was a little trepidatious about the ambiguity of the story. Was Jack Durkin really saving the world by tending Lorne Field or was he insane? This well written book moved along smartly with the reader pulled into the field and Jack's life fairly easily. He is ...more
Daniel Rudge
An interesting take on a horror novel that is one part humorous, one part a narrative on contemporary society, one part slow building suspense, and one part tragedy. The Durkin family has been under contract for 300 years to pull weeds in Lorne Field. Well not actually weeds but creatures that look like weeds. Except, most people in town don't believe the story that these weeds are creatures that, left unchecked, would grow to nine feet tall and devour all of mankind in just a few weeks. Bad thi ...more
David
Masterpiece.

One of the finest examples of fine literature I've read. Should be taught in classrooms from coast to coast. This is great fable-making on the order of Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Jackson's The Lottery and the Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea.

I'd say more but I'm a bit stunned by the thing. Instant favorite.
Mark Jamison
I kept reading this story as an allegory...or wanting it to be an allegory. If so, an allegory for what? Propping up the status quo? The drag of tradition? What we inherit from our parents? People whose work is more important than their relationships? A deaf God? Martyrdom? Having just finished the book in one sitting, I don't think it's much of an allegory at all. Just a creepy, well-written psychological horror story that deserves four stars for making me believe it was something even more the ...more
Chad Pilcher
The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a bleak little book with an intriguingly simple premise that doesn't wear out its welcome. Touchstones of The Twilight Zone and classic pulp invoked by other reviewers are apt, which formula is bound to satisfy some readers and stultify others. Me, I lap it right up. True to form, one can sense that a twist is a'comin'. Given the setup, it can really only go one of a few ways. Luckily for the reader, the tension of deciphering exactly what kind of dark, unsavory s ...more
Larry Hoffer
What a strange and bleak little book this was.



Jack Durkin has a great responsibility. Every day until first frost, he must weed Lorne Field in its entirety, purging it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. He is the ninth generation of Durkins to serve as caretaker; the eldest son of each generation has been contracted with since 1710. In exchange, the caretaker gets an $8,000 annual salary and he and his family can live rent-free in a cottag
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Mfred
Dave Zeltserman’s The Caretaker of Lorne Field is not really a horror story. I mean, I’m reading and reading and thinking to myself, when does the scary stuff happen? It’s not even particularly thrilling or suspenseful. It is, however, interesting and darkly humorous.

Jack Durkin is the nth generation of Durkins to weed Lorne Field of Aukowies. According to Durkin, the contract signed with the Durkin family 300 years ago, and the Book of Aukowies that only the Durkins have read, Aukowies are the
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Mike
Jack Durkin has inherited the job of clearing Lorne Field from his father, who in turn inherited it from his father, who in turn inherited it from his father, and so on and son going back 300 years. You see the weeds of Lorne Field aren’t just any weeds but maelvelont, intelligent, vicious creatures that if left to grow will destroy the world in days. Or so Durkin believes much to the chagrin of his wife and children who endure his claims that he is saving the world every day, while being forced ...more
Jeffrey
Is the heart of this tale a 300 year old contract for a family to keep a field clear of weeds or devils, or the metaphor that it serves for the quick loss of faith in one's work without concrete proof of results? An enjoyable tale that serves as a cross of horror-noir as the reader ponders whether the main character's saving or the world or damning himself by his alloted task.
Meghan Tracy
I got this book based on the following premise: There’s a man who weeds the same field every day. What if what he was weeding were monsters instead of weeds? And though I believe that the story is well told, I found the ambiguity to be the most trying part. I would have expected to read a 237 page book in under four hours, but it took me longer than that and I think it’s because of the ambiguity. Are the weeds really monsters or is this just a story of a man who is thoroughly deluded? That quest ...more
Tripp
I enjoyed this book. It is short and dances between small town noir and horror. The titular care taker is the most recent in a long line (300 years long) line of men tasked with pulling weeds from Lorne Field. Should he shirk his duties, the world will be destroyed by aukowies, the fully formed version of the weeds he pulls. Time was, his position was respected, but now his family and most of the town think he is a deluded fool. The current taker looks around town for his few allies as his wife ...more
Ariadne
What an odd novella. This book reads a lot like a Beckett play mixed with a retelling of Job. The main tension of this story revolves around whether or not Jack Durkin is insane, or if he really is pulling up monsters out of a field every day. Most of the scenes take place in his kitchen where he argues with his wife, and out at Lorne Field where he breaks his back working all day. If you're looking for a monster book with a lot of action this is not the book for you. If you want a slow story wh ...more
Paul Veldhouse
I loved it. Short enough book that I didn't get bored with it. Not really horror in my mind, though. Was more of a cross between family dysfunctional dynamics, belief, and duty. Well written. I wanted to believe as badly as I didn't.
Christina Carey
This book should have been a short story, a work of short literary fiction, rather than a novel. It has a refreshingly original premise but it's so redundant and drawn out that it loses its punch. Tis' a shame.
Giri Boy
kept me reading, was a bit repetitive, and the ending i did not like.
Larry
good horror novel, fresh idea
Elliot Richards
An okay read, I was hoping for something much more as I neared the end!
Lori
I struggle mightily to find good modern horror. (If you have recommendations, please, share them.) So the "shortlisted for best horror novel of 2010" sucked me in ... but I gotta dispute the assertion.

Caretaker would've made a great short story. And it's not exactly like I was bored or felt there were swathes to chop (ah, pun if you've read it!), but I have no idea why it took 244 pages to tell the tale. (Had to look up the printed length, as it's awfully hard to judge on a Kindle.)

Anyway. Inter
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What's The Name o...: Short story about killer plants/weeds [s] 3 43 Jul 16, 2012 05:46PM  
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Shamus Award winner for JULIUS KATZ. Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award winner for ARCHIE'S BEEN FRAMED. SMALL CRIMES named by NPR as one of the 5 best crime and mystery novels of 2008, Washington Post naming it also as one of the best novels of 2008. PARIAH named by the Washington Post as one of the best books of 2009. THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD (2010) shortlisted by American Library Associati ...more
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