Monday, 3 October 2011

Book Review: The Pumpkin Man by John Everson

The Pumpkin Man
by John Everson
Dorchester Publishing/Delirium Books
4 Stars
ARC supplied courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley.


After her father’s gruesome murder, Jenn needed a place to get away from it all with some friends, to take her mind off her grief. The empty seaside cottage she inherited seemed perfect. Jenn didn’t know that the cottage held arcane secrets, mysteries long hidden and best left alone. She didn’t realize until it was too late that the old books and Ouija board she found there really do hold great power. And it was only after her friend’s headless body was discovered that she knew the legend of the local bogeyman was no mere legend at all. An evil has been unleashed, a terrifying figure previously only spoken of in whispers. But now the whispers will become screams. Beware…THE PUMPKIN MAN

Years ago in the small seaside town of River's End, children went missing and turned up dead with their heads replaced with pumpkin carvings in their likeness. The locals suspected the pumpkin carver and a lynch mob murders him, most of them parents of the murdered children.

Cut to years later, where our heroine Jennica Murphy finds her father murdered and pumpkin shards all through his apartment. She and her room mate both lose their jobs as teachers at the local high school and with nothing better to do, they decide to go to the seaside cottage left to Jenn by her aunt in River's End. It was meant to be a new start, but things start to go wrong as soon as they arrive.

The townspeople are hostile, especially when they discover Jenn is Meredith Perenais' niece. In the cottage, they find a library full of books on the occult and skulls in drawers in the kitchen. They discover a ouija board hidden in the fireplace and decide to use it with the two men they recently met in San Francisco. It was all just harmless fun, wasn't it? It was, until lots of people are turning up dead with pumpkins instead of heads. Then Jenn finds out that the man people keep referring to as the pumpkin man, was in fact her uncle by marriage and he was the one suspected of murdering all those children.

I must say it's refreshing to find a horror that isn't filled with vampires or werewolves these days. No vampires or werewolves here, just good old fashioned things that go bump in the night. We have murder, witchcraft and a sense of impending doom from the very first page.

The murder scenes were perhaps a little gory for my taste, but the main part of the story is more of psychological terror, especially when people around Jenn keep dying and she keeps finding pumpkin shards in her room. Is she next on the killer's list? A story peopled with characters you care about and you have to keep reading to find out what is going to happen next.

John Everson has written a terrifying tale that stays with you long after the last page is read.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of The Chosen

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