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The Caretaker of Lorne Field

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  511 ratings  ·  113 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
Hardcover, 237 pages
Published August 26th 2010 by Harry N. Abrams (first published February 4th 2010)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  511 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
4.0 Stars

This is such a fantastic, underrated novel! I really feel that more people should read it. While this was not very creepy, I found the story to be engrossing and clever. The setup of the plot is fantastic. I adore potentially unreliable narrators and spent most of the novel questioning the sanity of the caretaker. Told from multiple perspective, the author cleverly hides the action to keep to the reader in the dark. The horror in the novel is largely unseen. In this way, this novel felt
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
If you read this book expecting something like The Day of the Triffids, you'll be disappointed. This book is really psychological fiction, where the reader has to figure if the caretaker is insane or not. There is evidence for both conclusions in the story, including townspeople who had paid Durkin and his ancestors to clear the field from the Aukowie plant monsters for nearly 300 years. But as the psychiatrist says towards the end of the book, this could be attributed to a collective hysteria t ...more
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The caretaker of Lorne Field must weed the field every day to prevent a terrible monster from rising.

The Caretaker of Lorne Field is not so much about the monsters as it is about the threat of monsters. Jack Durkin, the caretaker of Lorne Field, has a tough life, with having to weed the field of monsters every single day. His family has weeded Lorne Field for over 300 years, and once were well respected within the community. Times are a-chagin' though. Jack's getting no respect in town; in fact,
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing

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.
Ginger Nuts
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
George Mahaffey
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was ... interesting.
The author leaves it to the reader to decide what to believe in the end.
My favorite kind of endings...
While it did not have the most likable characters, I found myself engrossed in the story and it’s strangeness.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Caretaker of Lorne Field was a bleak, brutal read, but the writing was compelling and the author kept me guessing about what was real and what was fantasy right up to the very end. Even now, I'm not sure if the ending really happened to the characters or if it was all a delusion.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, horror
Part of my low rating for this is due to my own expectations: I went in expecting a horror novel featuring plants that killed people (which is 100% my fucking JAM) and what I got instead was a family dysfunction novel with a healthy dose of psychological suspense. The "horror", if it can be called that, hinges on whether or not the protagonist is insane. There's nearly no monster description, no suspense, and no atmosphere. It's about as light as a Twilight Zone episode, which is the only reason ...more
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Evan Jensen
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, horror
This was a little bleak for my taste. The story is interesting, and it's got that nice, vaguely creepy and threatening thing going on, but the unreliable narrator and his Job-like suffering were not enjoyable for me. I mean, the book isn't even 250 pages. This should've been a couple of days' reading for me. Max. But instead it was almost two weeks. I just couldn't stand the thought of spending more time in this miserable man's head.

However. If you like a story with a Cassandra-like narrator, ca
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Zeltserman's writing style is so easy and flowing, and the story is really well-crafted, sad, and thought-provoking. Why this sat on my to-read shelf for 3 years untouched? --I will never know, but I'm really glad I finally picked up this book up. What a ride.
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Would have made a good short story or twilight zone script.
Quite the interesting little book, fairly simple story but also a very unique one. It has one of my most beloved tropes at its center: is this really happening or is this protagonist batshit? It moves at moderate pace so if this trope is not your thing you might not appreciate this novel but I totally enjoyed it.

Set in a small town it has an old fashioned feel to it, partly due to the fact that it is about farming (in the widest (!) sense) and our title given caretaker doesn't even know how to w
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
Jack Durkin is the current caretaker of Lorne Field. From age 21 until his first-born son can take over at age 21, his contracted job is to "weed" the field every day. But he's not really pulling up weeds. They may look like weeds but they're Aukowies and if left alone will grow fast and in about 8 days would grow into a 9-foot-long fanged beast that would eat everything and everyone. And there's a giant field of them. The Durkin family has been doing this for 300 years but these days there are ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this book, an embittered, struggling man is the last sentinel in a lonely fight to save the world, by spending 12 hours each day fighting the monsters growing in a field. Trouble is, no one else believes him, and things are getting worse. Trapped by a magical and restrictive ancient family pact, he cannot escape his fate, yet needs a successor. Despite the sneers of the community, a resentful and vengeful wife who's given up, and a weakening body, he wages a thankless, noble fight to save peo ...more
This book was genuinely incredible, especially considering the tight space the author gave himself to write in; it's a masterclass in unreliable narration and building tension.

I wish I'd found the characters more likeable, but I think that might have made the story too long-winded, and every person felt real enough that I was invested so that doesn't matter too much.

I don't think this author generally writes horror, and that's quite obvious once you know, but I wish he'd write more because this
Michael Kocinski
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was...a surprise. I liked it, then I didn't like it, then I liked it again. Everything one would sort of expect to happen does, but not exactly according to the tropes we've all grown familiar with, and the twists are just subtle enough that for me they paid of in a very satisfying way. I liked this book a lot. And I'd say more about it but I'm not good at reviewing books and I'm afraid I'd spoil the very delicate suspension of belief required to be won over by this short, tight story.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have
This is a "what do you believe" horror mystery. A 300 year old contract putting the fate of the world on the Caretakers shoulders every day, all summer long. He must pull weed looking monsters from the ground before they mature.

The author splatters a picture from the perspective of Jack the Caretaker and from numerous townsfolk. I enjoyed the story as it was presented. A look at insanity or heroism depending on which page you're on.

A joy to read. Recommended with Corn Flakes.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Is our protagonist the 9th member of his family to spend his life protecting all of us from an evil force, ready to destroy us all, or is he insane? His wife certainly has an opinion, but the residents of his small town all disagree. Maybe he's the most important person in town or maybe he's just a deadbeat taking advantage of an old legend. As Jack Durkin's life becomes more and more challenging, it doesn't become any clearer.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this thoroughly from start to finish. I love the way that it tied up. I don’t want to say much more about this because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I love that it relies on psychology to convey the horror. Definitely recommend this one!
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I just grabbed everything my county library has to offer by Dave Zeltserman. Someone in procurement really likes his books. Excelllllent.

I hate to be cliche, but this book was addictive. Need I say more?
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What's the Name o...: Short story about killer plants/weeds [s] 3 50 Jul 16, 2012 05:46PM  
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Author of the crime noir novel SMALL CRIMES named by NPR as the best crime and mystery novel of 2008, and by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008, and made into a major film (to be released in 2017) starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Molly Parker, Gary Cole, Robert Forster, and Jacki Weaver.

Shamus Award winner for JULIUS KATZ. Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award winner for ARCHIE'S