Brian Keene

Dorchester Publishing
Trade Paperback/341 pages
ISBN: 0-8439-5644-5
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"Keene skews fantasy into a believable world that exists just the next block over. . ."

Real life holds many horrors when seen through the eyes of a child.


It is the first day of summer vacation for best friends, Timmy Graco, Barry Smeltzer and Doug Keiser, and the last idyllic days of their golden childhood.

Timmy’s grandfather, Dane, dies of a heart attack and Barry helps his dad, Clark Smeltzer, caretaker of the church cemetery, bury him. The minister’s daughter, Karen, and her boyfriend, Pat, are missing. Tombstones are toppling and graves are sinking. There are no birds near the cemetery. Cows no longer come up to the fence that separates their pasture from the cemetery. Road kill vanishes in the night. Something is wrong and Barry’s alcoholic and abusive father is involved.

When something living under the cemetery rips the world apart and three best friends face up to the monsters in their lives, friendship undergoes the ultimate test.

The three boys in Brian Keene’s latest novel, Ghoul, are typical 12-year-olds about to leave childhood behind as they face the monstrous truths in their lives: the most horrific monsters are the ones they live among. Keene paints a vivid and all-too-common world in small town Pennsylvania rife with sex, booze, rock and roll, child abuse, incest and youthful angst.

Slipping all too easily into the 12-year-old mind is only part of Ghoul’s charming and chilling reality. By looking at monsters—the ones in their midst and the one that reaches out of the darkness of an old cemetery—from a different perspective, Keene skews fantasy into a believable world that exists just the next block over that chills the blood. Ghoul is horror to savor.

Keene may be the opening act for fantasists like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, but he has become a very hard act to follow.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell