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Jack Ketchum

average rating is 4 out of 5

Horror, Extreme, Disturbing

R. Alex Jenkins

"Her clothes were tight. They would hinder"

Hinder what, exactly?

Offspring is the 'sequel' to Jack Ketchum's first book, Off Season. The surviving Woman from the first book and her new family come back 11 years later to wreak havoc again.

Offspring is shocking, gory, hits dozens of trigger warnings and functions as a great splatterpunk book in its own right.

But it isn't quite as mad or scary as the original:

  • Personal expectations were higher.

  • You can sense what's coming and it feels a bit predictable, even tired.

  • Italics are used to regularly leap back into the past, making the book feel short of fresh ideas.

  • The Offspring clan are more 'humanized' in a presumed attempt to connect readers to their plight?

  • It's just not as scary or wild as the first book.

  • The writing era is contemporary (at least when it was written) and often mentions technology and fads from that period that makes it seem dated - floppy disks, Super Mario Bros, etc., you know those old-fashioned movies with blocky monitors and massive cell phones?

For all these reasons, Offspring doesn't work quite as well.

There is something completely horrifying about a group of people being locked away in an isolated cabin and having to SURVIVE THIS! That's the first book in a nutshell, reminiscent of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, besieged on all sides by the ungodly forest (very scary in its day). Offspring on the other hand is a bit too planned and crafted, retraces its steps too often and doesn't really feel like a new experience.

However, a six-feet-two matriarchal Woman, pack-leading crazy cannibal loons to annihilation is a pretty good start. She's terrifying.

"To be an artist," said Kurosawa, "means never to avert one's eyes."

And just what is it about the State of Maine? That creepy stretch of coastline connecting the USA to Canada that enables creepy packs of wild human (things) to hide for decades in caves, out of the reach of local authorities? The isolated northeast, freezing cold in the winter and home to Stephen King!

Jack Ketchum knows how to do horror action scenes really well! These parts of the book are amazing. If you enjoy this, I really recommend Off Season and The Girl Next Door.

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