Saturday, August 18, 2007

Brian Keene's Ghoul

Besides being just about the nicest guy you'll ever meet, Brian is a great and, most of all, a sensitive and complex writer. His allusions slip seamlessly between comics and classics, and that keeps the voice believable and interesting, and he genuinely cares about his characters and makes the reader care as well. This story, despite the title or lurid cover, is a coming of age story (if you came of age in 1984 and had a flesh eating ghoul living in your backyard). And, as it turns out, the "monster" is really not that much of a threat (most of the time he's rather sympathetic), compared to what else the boys have to deal with, and both the supernatural and "regular" horrors are described deftly and terrifyingly. Not all the minor characters seem integrated well (especially Katie and any of the boys' mothers), and the ending seemed to me gratuitously nihilistic, as though the author felt a horror novel "has" to end with the evil continuing and not being snuffed out, but that may be an individual choice or judgment, and for others the ending may "feel" right and necessary.


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