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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review of Ghoul by Brian Keene

In Ghoul by Brian Keene three 12 year-olds struggle to enjoy another endless summer despite their abusive and misunderstanding parents and the incursion of a newly awakened Ghoul in their summer haunt, the local cemetery. The year is 1984 and Timmy Graco and his two best friends contend with sexual abuse, physical abuse, death, oncoming puberty, mean local dogs, and one very creepy supernatural menace. This tightly wound thriller is the perfect summer read, especially for those who remember what it was like to be young in the 1980's.

In Ghoul, the real monsters are the parents, at their worst they are domineering, alcoholic and insensibly vicious. At their best, their ineptly destructive and deaf to the warnings of the desperate children that have begun to unravel the horrific mystery of why the graveyard has so many sink holes and why people keep disappearing.

More than anything, this is an ode to youth, innocence, friendship, and the 1980's. I loved Ghoul, from its understandably wretched antagonist to its brave and wonderful protagonist. Timmy's love of comic collecting/reading mirrored my own at that age, and his turning to these and his monster manual for help was faithful to the imaginative boys of my generation. If you like horror mixed with the sweetly sad nostalgia for things unrecoverable, like innocence and child hood friendship, then you will love it, too.

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