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Off Season

(Dead River Series #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  9,424 ratings  ·  820 reviews
September. A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River—off season—awaiting her sister and friends. Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fall...

And before too many hours pass, five civilized, sophisticated people
Mass Market Paperback, 308 pages
Published June 2006 by Dorchester (first published 1980)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  9,424 ratings  ·  820 reviews

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May 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
*sighs* this seems like the time to quit reading cannibal stories and just rewatch tcm instead, until i die.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it

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 fee
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Well, not the worst I’ve read. Guessed the plot within the first 40 pages, which I’m never able to do. I need to make better choices...
Dan Schwent
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, verysleazyfun
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
The Best Ears of Our Lives
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 Spurts (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
Blake Crouch
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Originally published in ITW's THRILLERS: 100 Must-Reads

Jack Ketchum, a pseudonym for Dallas Mayr (1946 - ), owns some of the blackest real estate in the world of thriller fiction. A former literary agent and actor, Ketchum published his first novel, Off Season, to the dismay of the mainstream literary establishment and the delight of what would grow into a cult following. Over the last quarter of a century, he has published numerous novels, novellas, and works of short fiction. However, only in
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Oh my god what a disturbing book. There were moments when I dreaded to continue reading it because I just knew that things would go horribly 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 too 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 no ...more
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.)


(This recommendation must be clarified: I do not condone cannibalism in any form.)
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For the last 25 years, I have told anybody who would listen that IT by Stephen King is the best horror novel ever written. Right now, I’m not so sure anymore. This book simply blew my mind.

I was fortunate enough to read the author’s uncut, uncensored version. Even though this book was first published in 1980 – that’s right, 38 years ago – I’ve never had the opportunity to read that version. After reading the Afterword, it might have been a blessing. I don’t know if that particular ending would h
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
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
Edward Lorn
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Off Season: A Dash of Fear

From ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties, Good Lord, deliver us--Old Scottish Prayer

Some time ago a woman with an angelic face asked me if I had ever read anything by Jack Ketchum. Well, I hadn't. Until now. Off Season is my first venture into the novels of Jack Ketchum. Let's say it's a book for the reader with a taste for the different.

After a little research into the author, I was intrigued. Ketchum is a four time Bram Stoker Award winner and was named
Michael Hicks
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, bought
Jack Ketchum is an author whose works have been in my digital to-read pile for ages. I'm loathe to admit it, but he's one of those writers synonymous with the horror genre whose work, for whatever reason, I just hadn't read yet. I decided to correct that in 2018. Last week, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, Jack Ketchum lost his battle with cancer. His passing ignited an urgent need in me to finally discover exactly what I had been missing. I wanted to get to know a bit the man who so many fellow author ...more
Tracy Robinson
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review tomorrow! I’ll read the Included short, WINTERS CHILD, after I read SHE WAKES.

Ha! Apparently I need to work on my definition of “tomorrow”.

So. This book is absolutely brutal and gory. Content warnings for rape, graphic abuse. Just wanted to give a heads up for any reader friends this might be triggering for.

Off Season covers a family of cannibal killers and their “interactions” with a group of friends who are just looking for a relaxing cabin getaway. Yeah - not happening.

Ketchum’s wri
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, read-in-2012
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
Wayne Barrett
Oct 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, 2016, horror


There is some extreme grotesqueness in this story but somehow it lost its punch as it neared the end. The condition and character of the children in the opening scene grabbed my attention and I knew I was in for a macabre ride.


I wouldn't say the book necessarily ended badly so much as I think my senses had just become numb and grew tired of the chase. This was a story of survival against the cruelest, cannibalistic scenario possible, made even more terrible because most of the
Glenn Rolfe
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads
Just finished this one for the third time. Still amazingly honest, brutal, and engaging.
I forgot about the ending until I got close...then it came back. I think this novel has shaped the way I do things in my own stories more than any other book I read before or since.

You get lured into this great cast of characters and creepy group of savages. A fantastic set up that explodes at about the halfway point with one of the most impactful 30 pages or so I ever read. It was still as impactful this t
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2016
I can see why this book was a bit of a game changer in 1980. I'm glad I got to read it in the format intended by the author (albeit still not the original manuscript, which no longer exists) instead of the cleaned-up version. Warning: It is graphic and even this seasoned reader of horror novels winced several times! Some "gross" books have zero story line and bore me to tears. This one had a simple plot, but it was still engaging because the characters...even the CRAZY cannibals...were skillfull ...more
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust
My thanksgiving feast will now consist of pepto shots, saltine crackers and fruit flavored tums. Uncle Stevie wasn't kidding.

Job well done Mr. Ketchum.. .

Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Off Season was akin to reading "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I love that movie and I had a blast with this book. My first Ketchum novel was better than I expected. Highly enjoyable for fans of over the top gore. 4 stars!
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
Definitely the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. It’s going to stick with me, this one.
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Cody | CodysBookshelf
I didn’t go into this novel for something of emotional depth; I was not looking for a story with well-done subtext or fully fleshed characters. Having read a string of literary novels, I wanted something grisly and fast and raunchy. Jack Ketchum is that guy. And I got what I was looking for.

Having read and been horrified by The Girl Next Door last October, this book had been on my radar for some time. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to TGND. That one hooked me from page one and my heart ached for
Jul 07, 2017 added it
This review contains spoilers because there's absolutely no way I can talk about this book without them. Stop reading now if you plan on reading Off Season.

Again, I have a really hard time rating Ketchum, because I cannot say in any way that I "enjoyed" this book. I can appreciate what Ketchum is trying to accomplish, which is probably verbatim what I said in my review for The Girl Next Door, but I don't really think that this type of novel is my thing. It's like asking to get punched in the fac
Aug 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror, fiction
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 attack; then it's thrill filler, ho hum. It seems that o ...more
Horace Derwent

yes, this one has a unique preface for the chinese(traditional), i mean taiwanese edition(cuz the agency is the only one which issues jack ketchum's works in chinese on this planet :D), by the author too, like The Girl Next Door, so huhaa non-chinese speaking guys just be envious

since that i'd perused the original one before, i really enjoyed the translation of this book though i'm not very used to traditional/twnese chinese characters and its literary arrays of composing type, but still
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This was very disturbing. It's been a while since I've read something this fucked up.
Adam Light
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of extreme horror
Recommended to Adam by: Evans Light
So I had high expectations going when I opened this book up and began to read. I have read only one other Ketchum book entitled The Crossings. That one was a western that would have been great as a Sam Peckinpah movie. I can't believe I never got wind of Ketchum until recently, as he has been writing since the early eighties if not longer.

I'm happy I discovered Ketchum. He is a writer with no apologies regarding the extreme and often stomach turning violence within his novels. This was his first
William Thomas
Mar 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
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
May 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I don't know. Thought it would be better. I remember loving it when it was released in '81. I find this uncut version to be overall flat. Love the gore and action sequences but the characters... difficult to root for either one of them.
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Around the Year i...: Off Season, by Jack Ketchum 1 11 Jan 25, 2017 03:28PM  
Horror Aficionados : Off Season by Jack Ketchum *Spoilers* 34 75 Nov 23, 2013 09:04PM  

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Dallas William Mayr , better known by his pen name Jack Ketchum, was an American horror fiction author. He was the recipient of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations. His novels included Off Season, Offspring, and Red, which were adapted to film. In 2011, Ketchum received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre.

A onetime actor

Other books in the series

Dead River Series (4 books)
  • Off Season: The Unexpurgated Edition
  • Offspring (Dead River, #2)
  • The Woman

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