"Ghost Road Blues" was kind of like Diet Stephen King: no calories, half the flavor. Jonathan Maberry apparently scripts comic books too, and that was apparent in the melodramatic prose and the prolonged fight scenes in this book.
Thirty years ago, the small town of Pine Deep was victimized by a serial killer in what became known as the Black Harvest. A bunch of redneck cops killed the man they believed responsible, an itinerant black guitar-player known only as "the Bone Man," but in fact the Bone Man had already killed the real killer. Except he didn't because the real killer is a supernatural something-or-other who, of course, returns. As does the Bone Man, to give occasional dream-like warnings to the protagonists.
Now, Pine Deep is famous nationwide for its elaborate haunted hay rides, which basically turn the whole town into a horror amusement park every fall. A couple of survivors of the Black Harvest are still alive, but most of the town has forgotten or would like to forget about the origin of its highly profitable "scary" reputation.
So, besides the repetitious and melodramatic prose, the characters were flat archetypes. Malcolm Crow, a recovered alcoholic, is an ex-cop who runs a comic book store and has a black belt in jujutsu, and if the triumph-of-the-nerds point is missed, he befriends a fourteen-year-old boy who fantasizes about being a superhero while getting beaten at home by his stepdad. The main characters are likeable if cliche, but the villains, well, they're all not only evil, but Eeeeeeeevil! First we have a trio of thugs running from a drug deal gone bad; the alpha-thug is a hyper-violent psychopath who spends much of the book dwelling on just how violently and evilly he's going to hurt people. There is the crazy tow truck driver who hears voices in his head and who turns into a cannibalistic serial killer without a qualm. And there is that evil stepdad who also turns out to be a minion of the Big Bad, but just in case being the willing servant of a demonic serial killer and beating his wife and stepson black and blue on a regular basis doesn't make him evil enough, Maberry underlines how really, really evil he is by offhandedly having him also publish a white supremacist newsletter. You know, so we won't miss that he's really, really evil.
So here's what really torqued me about this book: it's the first in a trilogy and it was obviously written with the next two books in mind, meaning, there isn't even an attempt to make it self-contained. We're given hints of the supernatural Unspeakably Bad Thing that's about to happen all through the book, but the entire novel is just a build-up. The author is putting the pieces in place for the real badness to go down in the next volume. We meet the villains and the heroes, there is some intestine-chewing, and a few minor characters get kacked to jerk some tears, but oh boy, things are really gonna hit the fan in the next book! Umm, no thanks.
It's not bad, if you like completely mainstream horror novels, but Maberry really does seem to be trying too hard to be Stephen King. While he's certainly a more economical writer and he gets to the point waaaay faster than Evil Stevie does, his characters have none of the dimensionality and gruesomely interesting detail that even King's villains possess, and Ghost Road Blues uses violent evil goons and a few maggoty gross-outs like a hammer. A defter horror writer (like King — yes I'm a fan, for all his flaws) can convey spine-chilling dread with everyday objects or a half-remembered phrases from childhood. Maberry tries to do it by repeating ghoulish incantations over and over and over in the characters' heads.
Ultimately, there just wasn't anything original here and definitely nothing scary, so I don't care enough about what happens to read the next book.
I found the narrator annoying, frankly. He uses a gravelly, snarling voice for all the villains, adding a Translyvania accent for the Big Bad, and I didn't like the breathless, whiny, or chirpy way he conveyed female voices. The narration was clear enough, but I'm just not a fan of the reading.
Middle-aged, married dad of two, living in Northern Burbs of Chicago. Hard Sci Fi addict, and lover of great storytelling. Almost all of my reading is now in audio format.
Nerdy, mundane, cliche.
Maybe I'm just jaded, but it's really trite.
The author's voice is awkward and ...nerdy is the best way I can describe it. I just get really tired of being disappointed by hours of suspense for mediocre highlights.
This was seriously one of the most long winded books I have ever listened to. Did the author really have to use 15 adjectives or adverbs to describe every single thing?? It was kind of like watching a bad movie where you end up watching to the end hoping it will get better and it never does. That was this book, I listened to the entire thing hoping that the plot would get better and it never did. What the heck kind of town lets a kid get the tar beat out of him by his step father and no one does a thing, really? You have a villain that can???t be killed, you are kidding right? I do have to say that the narrator did do a very good creepy and evil voice, which was about the best part of the whole thing. I would rather be boiled in toxic waste than have to listen to another of these books.
Not recommend, the book bounced from character to character and it became very difficult to follow the story and how all of the seperate parts fit together. Have no desire to read the subsequent books in the series
In Pine Deep, Monsters are MONSTERS! None of this touchy feely, pansy nonsense that Monsters have become. In this world created by Jonathan Maberry good and evil are clearly defined, and the worst monsters walk in the light of day. I've read the Pine Deep Trilogy once a year for several years. Always in Fall, always finishing on or near Halloween. It's just appropriate. "Ghost Road Blues" was the first work of Mr. Maberry's I ever read. It hooked me like no other story had of the genre. I flew through the trilogy. He said at the end of 3, that we'd maybe revisit the characters. I'm still waiting for more novel. The tidbits in the Rot and Ruin series and the Material Witnesses short story (Joe Ledger Series) are not enough. Please, Mr. Maberry truly revisit Pine Deep. One more novel, please. I decided for a change of pace, I'd try the Audible version. I loved it Mr. Weiner was AWESOME in bringing the characters out of my mind into my ears. I recommend everything Jonathan Maberry writes. I've read many more of his works and truly loved them all. He is the best descriptive writer I've ever read. The fight scenes alone, are worth your time and money. I really can't say enough how much I love this Trilogy.
I wasn't trying to follow a series but I just might Finish these one. When I first got this book it didn't say Book 1 or part of a series, and that happens many times. Anyhow, this story was scary and had scary voices. The narrator was very awesome and gave me goosebumps.
a little slow to start but ended up being a really good read! I'm hoping the second book is a little more spooky though this is supposed to be a horror series so I'm hoping the horror shows up!!
Truly scary horror tale of evil that won't go away. Evil that just won't die vs. a cast of well developed characters. Starting the second book right now.
I like the Joe Leadger series figured I would give this series a try. It is good just very slow to start. For the first part of book, did not feel like the voice actor really wanted to read it. It got better through the book.