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Peaceable Kingdom

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,656 ratings  ·  96 reviews
This landmark collection gathers more than thirty of Jack Ketchum's most thrilling stories. "Gone" and "The Box" were honored with the prestigious Bram Stoker Award. Whether you are already familiar with Ketchum's unique brand of suspense or are experiencing it for the first time, here is a book no aficionado of fear can do without.


1 Introduction in
5 The Rifle
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Leisure Books
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  1,656 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's Ketchum...what else needs to be said? The guy makes the rest of us who write feel like we don't have a clue how to tell a story. Miss you, Dallas!
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Well... I'm not really sure what to say about this book. It certainly was a collection of brutally horrific stories, which I guess is what I expected from Jack Ketchum. But there's something so much more upsetting about his style in short story format. I can't really put my finger on it but I think in his books you know everyone's going to die and you have time to get comfortable with that, so when it happens you're like "ah well I knew they were all doomed." Here, where every story is 3-10 ...more
Evans Light
Will leave reviews as I work my way through, not necessarily in order.

(Format is: star rating out of five, denoted by the number of *, followed by the title of the story being reviewed)

***** The Rifle

Ketchum pulls no punches, kicking this collection off with a 12 page roundhouse to the brain. Kids problems, always a good premise for horror and the master delivers the goods with understated elegance on this one.

*** The Box

Nicely written eerie tale, once again about kids with
Daniel Russell
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The name Jack Ketchum is notorious for extreme sex and violence in fiction (see my review of Right to Life). As an avid reader of short fiction, I was looking forward to digging into Peaceable Kingdom, and was anxious to see how it would compete with my other favourite short collections, Dreadful Tales by Laymon, Nightmares and Dreamscapes by King, and The Collection by Little.

As outlined by Ketchum in the introduction to this book, be prepared for a variety of different genres in this great
Phil Williams
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Although Jack Ketchum is one of my favorite horror writers working today this collection of stories is a hit and miss. Some of the stories here are astoudinly brutal, like the first in the collection "The Rifle", where a mother discovers the horrible truth about her ten year old son or "The Visitor" where a man visits the hospital room his wife died in day after day to watch over the next occupants pass away. But there are some pointless ones here too. "Chain Letter" seemed a little muddled in ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Be warned, all kinds of uncomfortable topics are covered in this collection of short stories. Jack Ketchum writes like the devil, it's gritty, edgy and I like the writing a whole lot, as far as terror and suspense go. The problem with this is I think there are just too many stories lumped together (30+) and while some were great, others were passable and one too many just left me feeling unsatisfied. The writing builds the tension higher and higher and it feels like you're watching a balloon ...more
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: yo mamma
Recommended to Chris by: low low prices
Thank god Books-A-Million keeps their Ketchum novels in the buy two get one free bin; not that this makes his work a bargain, but it lets me look back on the wasted time and wasted money, and the time I wasted at work making that money.nevermind, it depresses me. Lets just say his work is largely a fucking waste of effort.

Ive given Ketchums work several chances, all novels (Off Season, The Lost, Red) and of course the free short stories/novellas they include in his books in order for the people
Amazing imagery from Jack Ketchum--He can phrase something so skillfully that I have to stop and laugh, or reread, or shiver.

1. Cowboys around a fire, pondering an unpleasant reality, from the story "Luck":

They passed the bottle and moments passed silent and sullen as kicked dogs...

2. This is my long dark night of the soul?, from the story "Chain Letter":

His Gethsemane bored him.

3. Your significant other leaves again, and this time, you realize, is the last time, from the story "The Exit at
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Now that I'm done reading this book, I can safely say it is one of the worst books I've ever read. Some people are excellent at writing short stories, but unfortunately, Mr. Ketchum is not one of them. He says it himself that his writing is all over the place, and in some cases, that's not a bad thing. Some authors are capable of writing about many-a-subject, and some authors even do it well. Jack Ketchum, however, is good at violence. He's good at shocking. But the subject matters he attempts ...more
Rob Boley
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that I did not want to end. I've read a bunch of Ketchum's novels, but this was my first foray into his short stories. He does not disappoint! The stories cover an array of genres and themes, but all have one thing in common: superior writing and the ability to hook the reader from the opening paragraph. Probably my favorite is "The Work." I won't spoil it, but will say that especially for authors, this story will shake you up. This is a beautiful collection of vicious ...more
Konnie Jones
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love Jack Ketchum, I really do! Whether it's a short story, his old hustler porn stories, or his novels, I love them all! This book really shows how great he is. While I didn't enjoy every story, most of them were truly awesome. Especially Gone, Sundays, The Box...he is the best!
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the best short story collections I have ever read.
Jenni DaVinCat
Having read a couple Jack Ketchum novels, I wanted to check out some of his short stories. Most horror authors that I've come to enjoy have collections like this and it's usually a pretty enjoyable experience. Sometimes the stories are hit-or-miss but I've come to expect that with short story collections. I'm not exactly sure how to explain my reaction to this book, but I don't know if hit-or-miss qualifies here.

The stories were...interesting. If you're looking for something that lives in the
Collin Henderson
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
We're gonna go through this bad Larry and review every short story. Buckle up.

The Rifle- A rather dark and disturbing opener, but also extremely well written, about what happens when a mother discovers that her son has some rather nasty hobbies he performs in his clubhouse. It's harrowing, and a pretty good indicator about whether or not this collection, or Jack Ketchum as a whole, is something you want to continue reading.

The Box- This is the first of two Bram Stoker award winning stories in
A vast array of mediocre stories, with one or two diamonds in the rough to make it almost worthwhile. SNAKES stands head and shoulders above the rest--not only did it have me on the edge of my seat, it even creeped me out a little. CLOSING TIME is a nice melodrama that packs a nasty bite. THE WORK was also interesting, in that Ketchum is obviously writing about much of his own career. As for the rest of these tales, I could, for the most part, take 'em or leave 'em. Virtually all of them start ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ketchum's compilation of short horror stories, and there are more hits than misses I find, but the one which completely had me speechless was called "The Box", which rightly won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Story. A story which absolutely transcends the horror genre, "The Box" touches on the nature of the meaninglessness of life, of death, and that empty unblinking chasm of black hole that stares at you during your every waking hour; absolutely terrifying. "The Box" alone is worth your ...more
David Larsson
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
As is the case with every collection of short stories, this one has it's tops and it's bottoms. There are some really good ones in here; The Box, Closing Time, Gone. Mostly, there are OK to good stories that's enjoyable for a reading. No story in here is a complete waste of time, even though some of them didn't really get to me. For Ketchum, this isn't as gruesome as one couldve expected, but there sure are some harsh bits in this one.
Aug 27, 2011 marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended author. 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.
Joanne Parkington
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Crikey .. every one a page turner & each has it's own merit's whether it's creepy, gorey or just plain scary. Plus there are a few that prompt debate & are clearly designed to make the reader question and think .. Megan's Law being the most obvious. A terriffic collection by a very talented author.
Donna Marie
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not normally a fan of short story collections, but Ketchum's Peaceable Kingdom contained a wide enough variety of stories (from the brutal and bloody to the plain weird) that it made reading it surprisingly captivating.
Oct 27, 2011 rated it liked it
This eclectic collection of short stories (mostly variations of horror, very broadly defined) features some good ones, some mediocre ones, and some simply bizarre ones, like the incest story that turns into a zombie story. You have to give Ketchum points for nerve, though.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was only ok. It's a collection of short stories and to be honest I found that most of them didn't make sense. At the end of most of the stories I was like "huh?".
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Better ratio of satisfying to not so satisfying stories than most collections. Stories range from balls out ultra-violent to eerie and otherworldly. Good.
Kevin L Smith
Nice collection

Some interesting short stories, although a few are a little too sad for my taste. I'm a big fan of short stories.
H.G. Gravy
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Jack Ketchum's short story collection, Peaceable Kingdom, showcase's the master of horror's ability to write more than just brutality, blood, and guts. Peaceable Kingdom has stories which invoke a wide variety of emotions including fear, disgust, humor, and of course, cruelty, blood, and guts. Some of my favorites include:

The Rifle A story in which a mother discovers a rifle in her young son's bedroom closet. While this may not seem like an incredibly elaborate plot, Ketchum takes the story in
Steven Belanger
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Very eclectic collection of stories from the author most famous for writing the cult classic Off Season. A summary of that book is a pretty good description of his writing (though Off Season is an extreme example): A bunch of teenagers and maybe twentysomethings are brutally attacked (while they're constantly having kinky sex) by savage ingrates in the deep woods, until only a few survive and all the ingrates are killed and it's all very bloody and the last one to die is an innocent boy with ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Pretty good collection of shorts. Lost a bit of steam about mid-way through but regained it's form towards the latter part of the book. Some stories reminiscent of King. Recommended if you like the genre. My ratings breakdown for each story:
1. The Rifle - 3.5/5
2. The Box - 4/5
3. Mail Order - 4/5
4. Luck - 3/5
5. The Haunt - 2/5
6. Megan's Law - 2/5
7. If Memory Serves - 3.5/5
8. Father and Son - 2/5
9. The Business - 4/5 (this one had me chuckle at the end)
10. Mother and Daughter - 2/5
11. When the
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like Ketchum's novels better than his short stories. Some stories in this collection are great, some seem to lose the plot halfway through, but all are written in his trademark style. It is not a collection for the faint of heart or the prude - gore is liberally sprinkled (or, more accurately, splattered) throughout, and the sex scenes tend toward the explicit. But it's not all a splatterfest either - there are also understated, haunting stories, even non-horror pieces that verge on melodrama. ...more
Douglas Ogurek
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
In the preface to this volume of short stories, author Jack Ketchum talks about the diversity of stories. Therein lies the problem. The deceased horror author was at the top of his game when he was writing stories that showed how depraved human beings can be. The Girl Next Door comes to mind. The best stories in this collection focus on that inhumanity, while the others are so so. One exception is the eponymous story that ends the book. In it, a group of country bumpkin types discovers animals, ...more
Craig Peterson
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Other then reading a short story by Ketchum, this is my first venture into his work. I chose this as I like short story collections so I can get a good understanding and idea of what the author is about. I really liked this book. I feel as if JK can really build strong characters and get you to believe and care for them. For instance with Twins, what the two main characters live and act are completely vile and morally wrong, yet I found that I really liked and cared for them and their struggles ...more
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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.

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Has it been a while since you've explored the mystery and thriller genre? Well, you're in luck because you are about to discover a lot of great...
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“But there's also the fact that in my experience most of my readers are first and foremost plain old-fashioned readers. Good readers. They're not looking for cozy brand-name output and that means I don't have to give it to 'em. They're not lazy and have little patience with pre-fab beach-bag books or Oprah's opine du jour. They're questers.
They know that every now and then you're gonna get lucky and pure gold like King and Straub's Black House will simply drop into your lap at the local supermarket but after that, if your bent is horror and suspense fiction, you're gonna have to get your hands dirty and root around for more. Find a Ramsey Campbell or an Edward Lee. They expect diversity and search it out. They want what all good readers want - to be taken somewhere in a book or a story that's really worth visiting for a while. Maybe even worth thinking about after.
If that place happens to scare the hell out of you all the better.”
“Someone once said to me that if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans. Just tell him who you are.” 11 likes
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