Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book Review - Hide and Seek by Jack Ketchum

You can get the overview about halfway down the author's page. (and you can buy it from my bookstore, but that's another story).

The story has blurbs of graphic swearing and some sex/nudity which may turn people off. Over the years, I've become somewhat desensitized to that sort of garbage but I still found it moderately distracting and unnecessary at times. If they took the book direct to movie, it would probably get an "R" rating for language and for nudity/sex. Ketchum doesn't get explicit in his nudity/sex, but I suspect the moviemakers would make sure it was overt. The language could easily be toned down to PG-13 or even PG without harming the story.

Anyway, I enjoyed the premise of the book. It's only about 170 pages, but even that felt a bit long to me at points, especially early on. I suspect this began as a short story but Ketchum wanted to turn it into a novel so he stretched it out as far as he could.

The language and form is beautiful. Some of the lines and turns of phrase he uses are absolutely amazing. I really felt like I was I felt the cool night breeze and the dank smell of the putrid caves. The town and the characters felt so very real to me. He had all the brush strokes in just the right areas to make things feel alive.

The back of the book (which I hadn't read when I purchased it) touts this as a terrifying story from a master of horror. The first half of the book is very non-scary. It has suspenseful moments but it was suspense along the lines of one of those nighttime soap operas rather than suspense in terms of a Koontz or other thriller.

I was in the mood to be creeped out of my mind when I read this and I was a little disappointed when I wasn't. The last ~1/3 of the book got into the scary and the action and I pushed through to the end very quickly and intensely. But the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the book felt like it was just ambling along developing characters and getting me into this intriguing drama.

As I mentioned above, the writing was excellent and the character and plot development was great. It just felt like I was reading two stories. The first 2/3 of the book was a great story and I enjoyed it and the last 1/3 was an intense romp that kept me excited. The overall story felt stretched a bit thin in places though.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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