Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"GHOUL" by Brian Keene

You don't have to be 34 (as I am) to enjoy Brian Keene's "Ghoul" but it certainly helps.

In the summer of 1984, best friends, Timmy, Doug, and Barry are looking forward to a fabulous vacation, reading comics and girlie mags, watching cartoons and late night horror flicks, riding their bikes, trading pranks with their arch enemies, and hanging out in their dugout fort, which just happens to flank their local cemetery... a cemetery in which a rather nasty resident has woken from an ancient slumber.

"Ghoul" is a nostalgic novel. It's a look back at a time when - if you were eleven in 1984, as I was - you felt invincible and the summer seemed like it would never end. It's a look back at the things that made being a child in the mid-eighties particularly fantastic. The mention of things like Thundarr the Barbarian, Trapper Keepers, G.I. Joe, "Mad" magazine, Skeletor, "Hill Street Blues", Greedo, Spy Hunter, and "The Defenders" - to name a few - gave me a front row seat on a blissfull ride down memory lane.

Oh, and there's a horror story here, too. A good one.

The monsters in Keene's books - both the human and inhuman - have a genuine bite. The monster in this one is particularly diabolical, and I love how Keene never shrinks away from giving us an insight into his antagonist's point of view - as in it's not just a mindless threat. Oh, and there's a morality tale as well. I won't give away too much, but the book really, really takes an unflinching look at how the actions of adults can have penetrating effects on the impressionable psyches of children.

In short, the book made me want to be a better parent.

A great book by a first rate writer, "Ghoul" is highly recommended, (especially if you're 34). You can check out Brian Keene's website HERE.

BY THE WAY, if you have read the book, or after you do, there's a passage on page 214 of the Leisure Paperback that is one of best passages in a book I've read in recent memory. It starts out, "He believed in Bigfoot. He believed in Ghosts." and goes on through the next page. Excellence, my friends. Excellence.

Rated 5 out of 5

(Originally reviewed in "The Daily Cave" on September 4th, 2007)

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