Trudi's Reviews > Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek by Jack Ketchum
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Jan 12, 12

bookshelves: 2012-reads, audiobook, jack-ketchum, small-town-lives, pulpy-goodness, horror
Read from January 10 to 12, 2012


Waaaaay back in the early 80's, Stephen King pronounced: "Who's the scariest guy in America? Probably Jack Ketchum." It was, to say the very least, a generous compliment that drew attention to a relatively unknown entity in horror publishing. Even to this day, Ketchum remains on the margins of an already ghettoized genre. He doesn't publish lots, and what he does produce tends to be graphic, propulsive stories filled with violence, sex, and grim outcomes.

He is most notoriously known amongst horror fans for his The Girl Next Door and Off Season. Neither are fit for the faint of heart, but it was the latter -- Ketchum's debut -- which a panicked, censorious publisher cut to pieces in 1980. It would be almost 20 years before an unexpurgated version was made available.

When Ketchum is writing at his absolute best, I would be hard pressed to think of anyone scarier. His prose is sharp and tight; he doesn't waste words and he will use them to haunt you and hurt you. His book of short stories Peaceable Kingdom contains some of the best writing I have read by anybody (and received the 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection).

This early novel (1984) is not Ketchum writing at his best but there is still a lot to recommend it. It's a coming-of-age horror story, set in a small town. It features an abandoned house with a gruesome history and a beautiful fucked up girl with a gruesome history of her own. Ketchum sets up the tension and the dread perfectly. You know something bad is going to happen, really bad, but with no idea exactly what (and the not knowing is always the best part). The climax is graphically realized and electric (if a little derivative).

As an audiobook, the novel excels. The reader has a deep baritone voice that whispers at the exact right moments to provide the desired shivery effect.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Great review! Off Season disturbed me in parts, but not enough to put me off his writing; still, I haven't picked Ketchum up since. Do you recommend any titles above the lot?


Trudi Oh definitely The Girl Next Door and his collection of short stories Peaceable Kingdom!


message 3: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Cool beans, I'll seek those out. By the way, I think you're gonna love Draculas. It's gory and quick and infused with an earnest love for the genre--like a bloody 80s horror flick that wins you over with its can-do attitude and its enthusiastic carnage.


message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Great review, Trudi. I will have to check this one out after Peaceable Kingdom.


Trudi Stephen wrote: "Great review, Trudi. I will have to check this one out after Peaceable Kingdom."

Stephen I enjoyed Ketchum's short stories so much. I haven't written a review yet; I think I will re-read most of them before I do. The collection as a whole is definitely worth a second go around.


Trudi Daniel wrote: "Cool beans, I'll seek those out. By the way, I think you're gonna love Draculas. It's gory and quick and infused with an earnest love for the genre--like a bloody 80s horror flick that wins you ove..."

This definitely has epic win written all over it Daniel (though it takes A LOT for me to get excited about a vampire story (most recently I had a very tepid response to The Strain). For some reason blood suckers just don't do it for me :)


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