Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel
From a master of horror comes an apocalyptic showdown between the residents of a secluded, rural town and the deadly evil that confronts them wherever they turn.
Evil doesn’t die.
The cozy little town of Pine Deep buried the horrors of its past a long time ago. Thirty years have gone by since the darkness descended and the Black Harvest began, a time when a serial killer sheared a bloody swath through the quiet Pennsylvania village. The evil that once coursed through Pine Deep has been replaced by cheerful tourists getting ready to enjoy the country’s largest Halloween celebration in what is now called “The Spookiest Town in America.”
It just grows stronger.
But then—a month before Halloween—it begins. Unspeakably desecrated bodies. Inexplicable insanity. An ancient evil walks the streets, drawing in those who would fall to their own demons and seeking to shred the very soul of this rapidly fracturing community. Yes, the residents of Pine Deep have drawn together and faced a killer before. But this time, evil has many faces—and the lust and will to rule the earth. This struggle will be epic.
Keep chilled: listen to more in the Pine Deep trilogy.
©2006 Jonathan Maberry (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Maberry supplies plenty of chills, both earthbound and otherworldly, in this atmospheric horror novel…This is horror on a grand scale, reminiscent of Stephen King’s heftier works.” (Publishers Weekly)
If you love the Joe Ledger novels and were excited to find something else by Jonathan Maberry, let me save you the trouble by warning you away from this absolute trainwreck. it's like what Maberry might have written when he was a college sophomore - overwritten, over-dramatic, and with some of the oddest use of adjectives ever. It's clumsy, ugly, and saddest of all - a complete bore of a listen.
"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.
This book was refreshingly different.The author has done an excellent job of developing the characters and only eluding to the underlying monsters that have plagued this town. Only thing I didnt like was having the book end before the story was finished I can only hope there is a second installment to find out how the hero(s) come out.
I really enjoyed this book. For me, it's MUCH better than the Joe Ledger novels. It reminded me of the best aspects of Stephen King and the narrator, while a bit annoying at first, really isn't that bad. I'm looking forward to the next 2 installments.
I'll admit the narrator is horrible. There I said it.
You can tell this is some of Maberry's early work because I feel he is spending way too much time on character developement and detail he doesn't need to be. Seems to be over doing a few things. However the story is awesome once you get into it. The series flows more like one book kinda like The Stand .. instead of three seperate books. It really starts coming together in the 2nd book. I suggest you stick with it. Im glad I did. No its not Joe Ledger.. or Tom Amora for that matter. Its still really good once you get over the narrator. It really is a great and brilliant story as a hole.
Baby Boomer in Raleigh NC. Faves include James Lee Burke, CJ Box, Baldacci, Flynn, Child, DeMille, Crais, Connolly, Thor, Coes, L'amour. Average two books/week.
I prefer Maberry's Joe Ledger series, but this was fine. I will probably continue with this series. I'm not much for these "horror in a small town" stories made famous by Stephen King. A steady diet of them warps my thinking.
Larry Corriea is another good author in the Man v Zombie gendre.
I'm currently in the middle of "Ghost Road Blues" and I'm getting that "first 100 pages" feeling. I'm starting to look for a different book... Don't get me wrong! I love the Joe Ledger series and the Rot and Ruin stuff but I'm having an awful time getting attached to this one. It may be partly the narrator who's a little dry but the flow is off as well. I'm reminded of the first dance with a new girl - awkward. I'll admit I'm spoiled by Ray Porter (narrator of the Joe Ledger series) who makes me look for excuses to go for a drive (I listen mostly in the car). More than once I've taken the long way home just to have more Joe Ledger time but "Ghost Road Blues" just doesn't grab me. I think this one's gonna end up being "filler" between downloads.
The horror element of the story can be campy at times but it's actually very good. What surprised me though was how the book ended. It wasn't a cliff-hanger but many of the characters in the story, and there are a few, didn't have any real conclusion. The whole book felt like a setup for the sequel which is something that one usually feels while reading the second book.
It wasn't the story as much as the narration I found so disappointing.
This was my least favorite part of the book, and ultimately what put me off.
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.
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