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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savagely Good!
I was looking around for some new horror writer after exhausting King, Herbert and Christopher Fowler. Got this book through Amazon and nailed it in 2 days. This is a fanasticaly gory, exciting, brilliantly paced book. It's bascially a story of survival and inner strenghth when faced with some of the most brutal and sickening scenes I have ever read think "The hills have...
Published on 18 Jan. 2007 by Bladder Monkey

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written horror fest, that unfortunately lacks originality.
When I read the reviews for off season, I thought to myself, "man, iv gotta check this novel out." It was written nearly 3 decades ago, and boasted such opinions as; "who's the scariest guy in America, probably Jack Ketchum." - Stephen King. For a long time this novel has been hailed as one of the most dark, gory, and startling books available. So i bought it and read it,...
Published on 10 Mar. 2009 by Paul Greatrix


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savagely Good!, 18 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Off Season (Mass Market Paperback)
I was looking around for some new horror writer after exhausting King, Herbert and Christopher Fowler. Got this book through Amazon and nailed it in 2 days. This is a fanasticaly gory, exciting, brilliantly paced book. It's bascially a story of survival and inner strenghth when faced with some of the most brutal and sickening scenes I have ever read think "The hills have eyes" and "Deliverence"

Would recommened this to anyone who likes to be scared.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extreme horror at its best, 28 Nov. 2002
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Off Season (Paperback)
First and foremost, it must be said that Off Season is not for the feint of heart; this is a visceral, brutal, unrestrained, exceedingly realistic novel that may sicken and disgust those unprepared for such extreme horror. The cover of my copy proclaims this "The Ultimate Horror Novel." I would not go that far in my assessment, but the suggestion doesn't fall very far from the mark. Ketchum held nothing back and pulled no punches in this, his first published novel. The story is rather simple but is far from simplistic. A group of six adults (three male, three female) retreat to a remote cabin in the woods of Maine for a week of relaxation. Unbeknownst to them, a family-group of utterly primitive, sadistic quasi-humans watch, wait, and eventually attack. Among this group are a number of wild children, and it is the children that have the most significant impact on the characters as well as the reader. The battle rages for some time, and many very bad things happen as the innocent victims do everything they can think of in order to survive. I found the conclusion to be spectacular; rest assured it is not the formulaic ending we see so often in novels of this sort.
I won't attempt to describe the horrible things the depraved attackers do--imagine the worst things you can think of, then imagine how much worse the unthinkable is, then imagine children taking part in it. This really is one of the goriest, most extreme horror novels I have read, but it rises far above any charges of shock value or gore for gore's sake. It would have been a disservice to the reader had Ketchum not made the awful individuals he described behave in such a fashion; in fact, I would suggest that these characters of Ketchum's creation committed such atrocities on their own and that Ketchum the writer had no choice but to tell their story truthfully and realistically. It is this utter, unimaginable realism that really sinks its claws into you and immerses you in this nightmare landscape of Ketchum's genius. Extreme horror used gratuitously accords the author little respect in my book, but extreme horror written as honestly and dare I say respectfully as that of Off Season deserves the utmost respect that I, as an epicure in the horrible, can possibly give to an author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I eat cannibal, It's incredible..., 3 Dec. 2014
By 
Arch Stanton (Cornwall, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Off Season (Paperback)
Six adult friends go on holiday to a cabin out in the wilderness of Maine. Once there they sit about contemplating trivialities in their life that don't really matter ~ does my bum look big in this, I think I could be depressed, my career's not going to plan etc etc ~ but fortunately not for long, soon they will go through an evening of terrifying life or death survival situations.. Because outside lurk a cannibal tribe of inbred loonies, chomping at the bit, just dying to 'meat' them...

I'd never read any Jack Ketchum before this, but I'd heard good things, and so, intrigued by 'The Sawney Bean Clan' style premise, and it's heavily censored publishing history, I thought I'd give this one a go first.

Pretty good. I quite enjoyed it overall. The first 60 pages are duller than a train~spotters memoirs, but after that, once it kicked off, just under halfway into the book, the action was fairly relentless..
Now don't get wrong, it's by no means the goriest/nastiest book I've ever read, and whether it deserved to be so heavily cut (or indeed it's reputation as being so gruesome) on it's release back in 1980, probably depends on how easily shocked you are, and your views around censorship in general, but overall you can kinda see why it might have upset a few mainstream readers at the time..
Featuring as it does, some nice juicy chapters that include: dismemberment, brain eating, child decapitation, point blank lobotomies, castration, mutilation, stone age torture, organ removal, cannibal cooking tips and sexual assault, etc!
Fear not though, because it's not so long before the civilised heroes begin to fight back and turn the tables (which was rather upsetting as I was growing quite fond of the cannibal family) and it eventually all comes to a head in a somewhat predictable (not that that spoils it) climactic bloodbath.

So there we have it folks, 'Off Season' is a straight up, genuine, early 80s, backwoods inbred slasher~horror. That has a good old humourless (There is a lot of humour, but it's macabre humour as opposed to irritating fanboy stuff), bloodthirsty vibe. And is an enjoyable fast paced (once it gets going) read, which I sat down and finished in one sitting.

Followed by Offspring and The Woman ~ which were both made into films. Which, if talking of films, if you like stuff like Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes, this novel certainly comes recommended.

The Leisure Books version is the uncut, cheap mass market version I read.

4.25/5
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3.0 out of 5 stars Well written horror fest, that unfortunately lacks originality., 10 Mar. 2009
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This review is from: Off Season (Mass Market Paperback)
When I read the reviews for off season, I thought to myself, "man, iv gotta check this novel out." It was written nearly 3 decades ago, and boasted such opinions as; "who's the scariest guy in America, probably Jack Ketchum." - Stephen King. For a long time this novel has been hailed as one of the most dark, gory, and startling books available. So i bought it and read it, and this is what I deduced.

The book has many good points. Ketchum crafts complex characters, with shifting emotions and opinions. He developes the characters together, giving each of them plenty of ink - this is so that there is no clear main protagonist, and when the killing starts you have no idea who is going to get it next - masterstroke!
His style of writing is easy to follow and races down the page, and is extremely graphic. He writes murder and mutilation in the same way and with the same intimacy you might find in a romance novel during a sex scene. Creepy, I know.

But still, I didn't find the book as disturbing as it was promised to be. I put this down to the age of the book. In 1980, I can imagine how this story must have made a lot of people feel. But in modern times we are quite desensitized to such graphic violence.

My biggest problem with Off Season though, was its profound lack of originality. This is a story about savages living in the hills, stalking and eating young holiday makers. I thought at first that this might be the book that spawned such similar storys. But when i checked the dates, I found that Off Season is out dated by movies such as Deliverance, and the original version of The Hills Have Eyes. I'm not saying that Off Season is a carbon copy of these stories, but it is damn close. There is even a moment in the book which is stolen almost unaltered from Night of the Living Dead - which the author happily admits.

If you have seen the movies I have listed above, then Im afraid you won't find anything new in Off Season. But despite this (especially if you liked these movies and are looking for 'more of the same') Off Season is a very well told story, and at only 270pages, is a quick, neat read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 10 April 2008
By 
marky77 (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Off Season (Mass Market Paperback)
This was my first Jack Ketchum. Picked it up for two reasons. 1. I'd heard Ketchum had a similar writing style to Richard Laymon who is my all time favourite auther and 2. Who can resist an uncut, previously banned book about a family of inbred cannibals??.

I almost gave up on this book at first as it was very slow to get started (about halfway through before the actions starts and even longer before it really gets going) but it's deffinatly worth the wait. The last 100 pages or so is brilliant and you really care about whether the characters who are left die or not because they are well developed during the first half of the book.

The plot is basically a group of friends stay in a house together in the woods and are attacked by an inbred cannibalistic family living in a cave nearby.

Once it get's going, fast-paced and exciting and very gorey. Scary and places and has nasty death scenes. The only Ketchum book I've read (so far) so I dont know if it's one of his better books or one of his worse books, but I'd certainly recomend it to horror fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Off Season (1981), 21 Oct. 2012
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The Dead River Chronicles
Rather than reiterate the stories, as so many have already done, I thought I would explain the Dead River Chronicles, chronologically.

The story begins with Off Season (1981) and continues in Offspring (1991), making The Woman (2012) the third in this series of books. Like all the stories, Off Season is set along the coastline from Maine to Canada, specifically in the fictitious town of Dead River, Maine. In the caves that pepper the mountainside overlooking the ocean are a tribe of cannibals. These feral cave-dwellers are bent on terrorizing the townsfolk and visitors to the area. Other stories that are linked with this trilogy are the novel Hide and Seek (1984) and the short stories Winter Child (2006) and Cow (2012); Winter Child fills the gap between Off Season and Offspring; Cow is a vignette that tracks events following The Woman.

I hope this explains the Dead River series to the uninitiated or those who may have read one of the books and crave more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gore-Tastic, 27 May 2009
By 
KMS (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
After trying to find a book that would terrify me, I came across this one as it was recommended on a horror movie based website. Having not read any of Ketchum's material before, I found this really easy to read.

The book is about a group of thirty-somethings who are staying in a cabin deep in the woods. It isn't long before they realise that something sinister is lurking in the woods, something awful which will leave them fighting for their lives.

I thought this book was, in a word, disgusting. But I loved it! I found myself open mouthed at the way Ketchum graphically describes some of the scenes in this book and I couldn't not put it down...I finished this book in about 4 hours! It's gory, graphic and gross.

I would recommend this book for people looking for something to scare the socks off them and put them off ever going into the woods at night again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 25 April 2014
By 
E. Orr (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Off Season (Mass Market Paperback)
The story is rather simple but is far from simplistic. A group of adults retreat to a remote cabin in the woods of Maine for a week of relaxation. Unbeknownst to them, a family-group of utterly primitive, sadistic quasi-humans watch, wait, and eventually attack. Among this group are a number of wild children, and it is the children that have the most significant impact on the characters as well as the reader. The battle rages for some time, and many very bad things happen as the innocent victims do everything they can think of in order to survive. I found the conclusion to be spectacular; rest assured it is not the formulaic ending we see so often in novels of this sort. Ketchum is up there with Morton Bain as a great horror writer.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If this is the uncensored version I'd hate to see the censored one., 5 Sept. 2008
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This review is from: Off Season (Mass Market Paperback)
This is my first review ever on Amazon, though I have been buying books here for years. I bought this book because of the reviews, and I hope no one else makes that mistake. Because of the reviews I had read, I was very much looking forward to reading this book. Actually, I was pretty freaked out even before I got it. And of course I was massively disappointed. The violence is nothing compared to what is coming out in books and movies today. Like one of the other reviewers said, this book was possibly extreme when it was first released, but by today's standards it's absolutely dull. Yeah, it has a fair amount of gore, violence and sex, but I am convinced that the only reason it got censored back then is Ketchum's love of the word c**k, and there aren't many roosters around.

The idea is pretty good, especially if you like movies like The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and such (sorry, don't know many books with similar themes). But for me it just didn't work that well. There is little suspense and no surprise, and the cannibals aren't really that creepy. Stephen King is a bit of a liar, saying you won't sleep until Christmas if you read this on Thanksgiving. I'd say that if you read this on Thanksgiving, you'll sleep pretty much right away.

This book is exactly for the feint of heart, because horror fans wouldn't react at all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 6 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Off Season (Kindle Edition)
I've been wanting to read this book for ages and it was certainly worth the wait. Captivating from the start the story builds slowly and steadily, alternating between the principle victims and the police; who take a while to wise up to what is actually happening in their sleepy back water.
This book is more graphic than The Girl Next Door; especially at the end but is all the better for it in my opinion. I like the fact this is the complete book not the cut back version and reading Jack Ketchum's thoughts at the end were very interesting.
If this is your first Jack Ketchum book you chose well - brace yourself though it's one hell of a coaster ride!
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Off Season
Off Season by Jack Ketchum (Mass Market Paperback - 1 Jun. 2006)
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