Suburbia in the 1950's. A nice quiet simpler time to grow up -unless you count the McCarthy trials and red-scares and the shadow of the Bomb and the Cold War, unless you could see the dark side emerging. And on a quiet tree-lined dead-end street, in the dark damp basement of the Chandler house, it's emerging big-time for teenage Meg and her crippled sister Susan -whose parents are dead now, who are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant Aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons -and finally an entire neighborhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make. Between love and compassion, and lust and evil.
This is my first peek into the writings of Jack Ketchum. I was recommended this book highly by Nick Cato of Novello Publishers and the LAIR of the YAK. I must admit, the book made me VERY mad!!! I remember hearing others talk about getting mad at a book and tossing it at the wall on the other side of the room and I never understood, but now I do. I, of course, didn't throw the book because I'm too careful with my books, but I did feel the urge to do so. The narrarator (and main character) of the book, David, frustrated me to no end by just standing by and watching all the torture take place in the Chandler's household. I knew he considered himself a friend to Meg and even seemed to have a crush on her so I just couldn't fathom that he'd stand by idly and watch her be tortured in the many ways that she was. Not to spoil the end, but even though he "came around" somewhat, I was still disappointed in the fact that he didn't "buck up" sooner. Granted... I know he was only a 12-year-old boy and probably didn't know WHAT to do... but you'd think he would've done something!!!
So... I hated the book in the sense that I was mad at David the entire time, but I honestly loved the book! It kept my interest peeked the entire time because I wanted to know what was going to happen next and kept hoping David would redeem himself. I'm still tossing around the ending in my head though and debating whether things worked out for the best or whatnot. I think they did end how I would've expected them to end, but I'm just not sure I'm happy with it all. It's just a lot to absorb and take in because it's a very powerful book. Ketchum did an awesome job with his descriptions of the events of the book making me feel I was watching the goings-on (granted, that wasn't always pleasant!). This book is definitely not for those of the feint of heart (though I recommend it to all my "sick shit sisters") I do applaud Ketchum also for NOT detailing the scene with the tire iron! As soon as I knew what was to come I was honestly thinking "what sick person can detail something enough in their minds to put it into words!?!?!". So... I was extremely happy the way he handled that situation & just left it to the imagination.
As an added bonus at the end of the novel, there is a look into the reasoning behind the story and also 2 bonus short stories (DO YOU LOVE YOUR WIFE? and RETURNS). I enjoyed all of the added bonuses, but not nearly as much as the novel itself.
As I said above, this is my first look into Ketchum's works, but definitely not my last. He had me with tears in my eyes at one point as well as chills going through me in another. My emotions were very into this book, which makes me think highly of an author. I will be bumping up another book on Mt. TBR by Ketchum in the very near future!