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Off Season  By  cover art

Off Season

By: Jack Ketchum
Narrated by: Richard Davidson
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Publisher's Summary

September. A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River - off season - awaiting her sister and friends. Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fall.

And before too many hours pass, five civilized, sophisticated people and one tired old country sheriff will learn just how primitive we all are beneath the surface...and that there are no limits at all to the will to survive.

©1981 Jack Ketchum (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"If you read Off Season on Thanksgiving, you probably won't sleep until Christmas." (Stephen King)
100 Must-Read Thrillers (International Thriller Writers)

What listeners say about Off Season

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow!

Where has this autho been all my life? I'd never heard of Jack Ketchum till recently, and took a chance on this book. I am partial to this type of story, and the genre in general, but I didn't expect the book to be as good as it was. Very, very intense, graphic violence, but for a good reason. The antagonists (the family of cannibals) are truly froghtening, even the children. If you can deal with the violence, I highly recommend this book. One of the most frightening stories I've read in a long time.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Breathless

I now understand why Jack Ketchum's "Off Season" is a classic.
Mr. Ketchum is a master of setting a scene. He is also expert in building tension and conflict.
The story was gruesome...deliciously so. His writing...genius.
I will listen to it again.
And again.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Nice!

Flowed really well. People didn't like some of the gore but I'm all for it. It wasn't to much that made the story lose traction. It was a good listen. Fast paced and had me tense up in quite a few moments. People out to relax and end up in a fight for survival that leads to one of the most horrible nights I can remember in a book. Overall I liked this book. Good scary horror.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The 1980s were a long time ago, eh?

Overall, it's an okay story. I didn't realize that 1981 was so long ago but after reading this book and noticing just how much it reads like a "classic", I understand that the 1980s is a whole world ago and what was shocking and revolting then in fiction has been outdone since in real life. I didn't find it particularly gory or disturbing (go read Meat if you want something disturbing) but I'm sure for an 80s audience it must have been.

The women are beyond useless and the "bad guys" are beyond believable, and if I lived in Maine I'd be offended at how "hillbilly-y" Ketchum portrays the locals, but it's fast and nicely paced and you might still find yourself wondering how it'll turn out in the end, even if you might not care about any of the characters enough to hope for their survival.

But, for a fast and gory - albeit somewhat dated - horror book, it's decent enough. I don't think I'll read more of Ketchum though as it's really more like Shock-Horror than Terror-Horror which is what I prefer when I read horror books. Oh, and there's no subtlety as to what's going on, or what will happen in the end.

The narration is okay. He's not the most animated narrator I've heard, but he doesn't hurt the story any.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Mediocre at Best

I temper my judgement of this book for two reasons:
1. He wrote it 30 years ago, so it's unfair to compare the many books that did what he tried better since then, and
2. He was simply trying to write pulp slasher fiction and didn't care about character development and can't be judged too harshly for not doing it.

The author thinks he wrote an explicit novel, but there are 1960's novels that were more explicit (Rogue Roman comes to mind). You can't hinge the success of a novel on shock, but that's what Ketchum tried to do here.

To make explicit violence work properly, you need to pair it with beauty. Ketchum doesn't build up beauty at all, so the violence is simply boring.

Finally, the book is narrated as if by a parody of Captain Kirk. I kept forgetting to listen to the novel and imagined William Shatner reading the phone book as if it were the end of the universe. Every little thing is narrated like it's a shocker, and I mean everything no matter how trivial. There's no nuance at all, no finesse. But that may be the producer's fault and not the narrator. They may have told him to do it.

When I think of fun pulp books I listened to like "Infected" or smart explicit books like "Meat" or "Kafka on the Shore" it's hard to feel like I got any value hearing Off Season, but then those books are more mature.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Read

Didn't expect this! Exciting and different. Not familiar with the author but want to read more. Story is just enough to feel for the characters without being bored.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not very good

I really had a hard time finishing this book. Not because of the book per se...I've always wanted to check out this novel and author. To be honest, I wasn't very impressed...its fame as a violent and nasty book is justified. The story is pretty formulaic, full of cliches and stereotypic characters. But all in all, It would have been a fun, B-movie type of experience if it wasn't for the voice artist who reads this: I didn't like his style at all. His "women" and "redneck" voices are specially sucky...I am still waiting for an audiobook version of The Girl Next Door. Hope it is read by somebody else, if ever released.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A great book ruined by a terrible narrator.

A book worth a read for the sheer bitterness of the story. I have been a fan of Ketchum for years and wanting to relive the stories wanted to revisit. Don’t
The narrator made this almost unbearable, his impersonating voices are just atrocious and will completely ruin the story/experience

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great everything except 1st couple of mins...

1st couple minutes has some music that I was scared wouldn’t go away. It did and never me returned thank goodness. Narration was great, characters and story was great. I just watched the movie and this was a great addition to it, better as well but both good. Onto Mother!

2 people found this helpful

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  • T
  • 08-29-22

This book Terrified me.

This book will Stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. I couldn’t stop listening I had to know what was going to happen next. The characters are engaging. The narrator is awesome! I especially loved Laura and the officers! I would recommend this to any horror fan.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jennifer
  • 07-04-10

Off Season by Jack Ketchum

If you like Texas chainsaw massacre and the hills have eyes then this is the book for you although its very gory and very detailed it makes you think that you would never want to be in the position these characters were great disturbing well written story

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tom Adams
  • 11-22-22

Classic Jack Ketchum

If you know Jack Ketchum’s work already, then you won’t be disappointed with Off Season. If this is your introduction, then it’s a great place to start. OS is a slow burner that builds up into a bonfire of excruciating horror (and by excruciating I mean it will have you squirming in your seat). Richard Davidson does a superb job on the narration by the way.

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  • Bethany Wilson
  • 11-11-22

Off Season

Really enjoyable listen. Good, gruesome cannibal story with just enough gore to make you squirm. I really enjoy this author, can’t wait to look up more of his work.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cadeau
  • 11-06-22

Simple, enjoyable cannibalism

I like a short book that sticks to the point. Being eaten by cannibals is unpleasant, this book explains that fact admirably.

My only gripe is that the main characters die by their own mistakes and are not overpowered by the family. I think I would have made it out, and I shouldn't have the luxury of thinking that.

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  • Dallas Winston 9
  • 01-20-17

The Hills Have Eyes meets The Strangers

What made the experience of listening to Off Season the most enjoyable?

This book was no holds barred in all departments. The afterward by the author highlights how graphic the book was for its times, but it still is. Put it this way, if it were to be adapted Rob Zombie would be the man to do it. However, the violence, sex etc all suit the story. So to answer the question the book delivers on its promises! The narrator was also a good match to the story.

What other book might you compare Off Season to, and why?

This books is 'Constant Reader' territory. So anything Stephen King, IT WAS SET IN MAINE! The story was most like the films; 'The Hills Have Eyes' and 'The Strangers'. I would recommend to anyone who likes gore!

What does Richard Davidson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Richard Davidson was well suited and brought a slick laid back style.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book grossed me out😝

Any additional comments?

Really enjoyable. Steady at first but when the s!!t hits the fan it explodes. Give it a try😀

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  • Madcozy
  • 11-13-16

Love this author

Love this author the books are no holds barred shocking at time but you can't stop listening

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  • Emily Webb
  • 09-02-21

Terrified but couldn’t stop listening

I was terrified listening to this. Completely transfixed and couldn’t stop listening. *TW Graphic violence

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-27-22

Riveting

Absolutely riveting and a visceral experience.Jack Ketchum has managed to portray the subject of cannibalism, oft taboo in a western setting in a wonderfully liberating story.