Friday, September 04, 2009

GHOST WALK by Brian Keene

I have a love-hate relationship with the work of Brian Keene. A few of his novels have absolutely captured me—Terminal—and a few others have been abysmal disappointments—Ghoul. So I always approach a Keene novel with a certain excited wariness because I know I will either really enjoy it or want to throw it at the wall before the final page.
I read one of Brian Keene’s recent releases—Ghost Walk, published in 2008—and I really had a good experience with it. It was a typical supernatural horror story with interesting and likable characters. In a word: fun.

Ken Ripple is a widower. His wife died of cancer two years before the novel opens and he is in the final process of designing and building a haunted woods tour for Halloween. The proceeds to be donated to a cancer research charity. The only problem, other than the usual problems of getting any enterprise in motion, is that a hunter unwittingly releases a demon in the woods next to the Ken’s attraction.

Ghost Walk is an easy and unassuming horror novel. It is easy to read and it has an understated and effective atmosphere of both excitement and dread. The demon is portrayed well as a background piece that isn’t developed much beyond the dark shadow in the closet, which makes it effective as a bogeyman-style villain.

The characters are tightly controlled and adeptly fashioned to the plot. They range from Ken, to a local freelance writer, to possessed teenagers and even an Amish outcast with the ability of astral projection. The plot is the usual—there are no real surprises—but Mr Keene is able to amplify the story with his toned down prose style and interesting vision of horror, which is a terrific mixture of the supernatural, comedy, and a vibrant small-scale low budget horror film.

There are also several unique elements in the novel. The Amish outcast mentioned above is a wonderful character that adds both originality and wonder to the tale. There is also the description of the joys and misery—and just plain poverty—of a freelance writer’s life. Something Keene probably knows all to well.

Ghost Walk is perfect for a quick and spirited foray into the supernatural for both the horror enthusiast and the occasional visitor. It is a simple diversion and pure fun. It passes too quickly and leaves the reader the reader pondering if the next Brian Keene novel will be just as entertaining.

1 comment:

Rabid Fox said...

I read "Ghost Walk" a few months back--my first sampling of Keene's work--and found something missing in it for me. I guess it was just because it was a kind of follow-up to a previous novel, or the character development left me wanting more. Whatever the case, I'm hoping to be sucked in by something else of his down the line, because this one just didn't quite do it for me.