Title: The Pumpkin Man
Author: John Everson
Release Date: 09/15/2011
If you're familiar with the pulp horror books of the 80s and 90s, you'll be well prepared for this book. If you're not, then the best I can equate them to are the equally campy-yet-fun movies of that era. (Think 976-EVIL style camp.)
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
As someone who cut her horror lit teeth on various pulps carried by the local libraries, I was pretty excited to dive into this book. The premise of this takes me back to an era where horror didn't have to be slick and put huge new spins on everything, it just had to entertain. Everson manages to capture the feeling and general intent of these books for the most part.
The story's beginning was pretty strong and managed to keep my interest. I'll admit that the characters are woefully underdeveloped but I wasn't really expecting a lot of depth here, so that's OK. There's a lot of great shock and titillation scenes that made up for this.
Where the book stumbled was in the last half of the book where things just seem to fall apart. Everson tries to shift the plot somewhat and as a result it just loses some of the momentum that made the earlier part of the book so much fun. We're given revelations and introductions that just seem a little out of left field. I can't help but think that if we were introduced to these specific characters earlier, the plot twists they brought about would have been a little more gasp-worthy and held the plot together better.
Overall this isn't a bad read and I'd heavily recommend it to fans of camp horror. It's the book equivalent of watching a horror movie along the lines of Night of the Demons, so it's perfect for the Halloween season. As long as you don't expect too much from it you'll enjoy the ride. I just wish that it'd been a little more polished than it ended up being. Either way, I'm going to check out some of Everson's other works.
3.5 out of 5 stars
(ARC provided by Netgalley)