Set in a small Pennsylvania town in the early 80’s, Ghoul is a coming of age tale with teeth. It’s the summer of 1984 and 12-year-old Timmy is spending his days going on adventures with his best friends Barry and Doug. It’s whilst on one of these adventures the trio come face to face with a Ghoul, a creature that’s eating corpses from the local cemetery. As the desire for flesh increases, the beast starts to kill the town’s residents. Whilst the corpses start to pile up Timmy, Barry and Doug realise they may be the only ones to stop the Ghouls plans to bring more of its foul species into our world.
For one reason or another, Ghoul is my first experience reading Brian Keene (Twice Bram Stoker Award winner and the 2014 World Horror Grandmaster). I wish I’d jumped on this ship a lot earlier, Keene has a writing style that immediately clicked with me. Opening with a scene that felt like an homage to Richard Laymon, Ghoul is a fast paced tale that is not actually about a Ghoul at all. Yes, the beast features but the real story here is the fear of the people who should love you the most and the inevitable step into adulthood.
Hardly an original premise, but it’s written so well, with characters I genuinely cared for, it made no difference. Covering incredibly sensitive subjects like sexual and physical abuse, Ghoul really does put you through the emotional wringer. Timmy, Barry and Doug were kids I could see myself hanging around with back in 1984 (I would have been the same age as them as well), building dens, reading comics and of course, having those wonderful adventures. It’s this connection to the kids that makes their journey so much more powerful.
Never salacious, this is a brutal, unflinching coming of age tale which makes you realise that no matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid growing up.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4****
There is something in the local cemetery that comes out at night. Something that is unearthing corpses and killing people. It’s the summer of 1984 and Timmy and his friends are looking forward to no school, comic books, and adventure. But instead they will be fighting for their lives. The ghoul has smelled their blood and it is after them.
But that’s not the only monster they will face this summer . . .
From award-winning horror master Brian Keene comes a novel of monsters, murder, and the loss of innocence.