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The Caretaker of Lorne Field

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  399 Ratings  ·  95 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, 224 pages
Published August 26th 2010 by The Overlook Press (first published February 4th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
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
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
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
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
Tim Niland
Sep 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
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
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
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.
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: horror, fiction
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: horror, fiction, fantasy
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.
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.
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Larry H
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Once again I liked the idea this book was based on but I didn't like the execution of it. I immediately hated everyone in it and that feeling did not go away. I don't know if I was meant to hate everyone, including the Caretaker so much but I found the characters made it hard for me to want to read the book. Also in the edition I read there were A LOT of typos/misplaced words.
And here is where I get ranty about plot points (view spoiler)
Daniel Rudge
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
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
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jenny OH
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this much more than I expected to! It's a fast read as you will REALLY WANT TO KNOW if the mystery of what is really in Lorne Field is solved.

Basically, the main character - and his father before him, and HIS father and HIS father etc for 300 years - have had a contract with the town to root up things that look like weeds but are actually ferocious deadly monsters. OR ARE THEY?! He believes, and so do a few of the old-timers in town, but everyone else, including his wife and older son (w
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
This is basically the absolute
"why you should respect your elders"
"the new generation is made up of total assholes"
possible worst case scenario/horror story.

So if there's some wonky tradition out there that you're like
"Hey Mom, why do we keep a weird ass thing a ma jig above the door"
and she's like
"To ward off the three fanged foot eating sewer beast. I don't know if it exists, P.S., I just heard the thing a ma jig does the trick"
probably saying "Welp, sounds like BS" and taking dow
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Jack Durkin is the 9th generation of caretakers in his family. The caretakers are tasked with keeping Lorne Field free from Aukowies, terrifying little plant monsters with sharp teeth that grow like weeds until they're big enough to pull free from the soil and overrun the world. No one has ever truly seen an Aukowie because the caretaker has never let them grow that big...

This book is the epitome of the "hidden gem" - powerful, compelling, and unknown to about 99% of the readers who come into th
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, horror
Jack Durkin's family has been farmers for over 300 years. The family lives on a subsidy from the local government, and is provided a simple house, rent-free. The one caveat is that they must maintain a field, and ensure every weed is pulled out, religiously. Nothing grows in the field, and that is the goal. Jack Durkin swears that if any of the Aukowie plants are allowed to grow more than a few inches, they will explode in growth, and turn into human devouring monsters, and destroy the world. Th ...more
Bill Wallace
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pretty much read this excellent horror fable without laying it down. While I was reading, the CD player on random shuffle kept offering up Tom Waits songs, which are just about perfect. Get behind the mule.

Or else.
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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 ...more
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