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Publisher's Summary

Bram Stoker Award Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel Nominee 

In Adam Cesare’s terrifying young adult debut, Quinn Maybrook finds herself caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress - that just may cost her life.

Quinn Maybrook and her father have moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs, to find a fresh start. But what they don’t know is that ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. 

On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.

Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now. 

YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee

©2020 Adam Cesare (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Clown in a Cornfield

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Bad Narrator

The narrator often does a "crying voice" or "trembling voice" that is incredibly irritating. The crying/trembling occurs not only in the dialogue (where emotion would make sense) but also in the exposition (where that level of emotion doesn't make sense and is distracting). It makes the book almost impossible to listen to. Overall exhausting.

8 people found this helpful

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Not Cesare's Best

There are two problems here.
One, this is not Cesare's best work. Like VIDEO NIGHT and his other "adult" titles, CLOWN is a kind of throwback 80s-horror movie book. The problem here, I think, is that he's trying too hard to be a YA author. The text feels forced and rigid, unlike his other books. The story is fine but lacks the polis and pizzazz of his other works.

The bigger problem is the narrator. Jesse Vilinksy is overly dramatic, overacts, and sucks what little joy there is right out of the book. Many of her male characters sound like tired old men instead of young high school-aged boys. I wish they had stuck with Matt Godfrey and not gone with Vilinsky.

I'm a fan of Cesare but this one was more of a double than a home run.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Teen Slasher

CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD is a teen slasher film on paper. Felt like I was watching a movie as I listened to this excellent audiobook. People will be trying to buy the movie rights to this novel very soon, great read.

7 people found this helpful

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NOT Friday the 13th or Halloween AT ALL

This book was one of my most anticipated reads annnnnnd it flopped. BIG TIME. I wonder if I hadn’t sat through those horrible “southern” accents the narrator attempted to achieve that I could’ve fallen into the mindless killing that the nameless, flat characters go through. Probably still wouldn’t have but oh well.

The first red flag was that 7 main characters got introduced in the prologue, then one died to kick off the story, and then got replaced by another new character. Quinn, the narrator, is the only person to get any semblance of agency, though she can’t ever decide on whether she wants to be the shy, traumatized new girl, the mother figure of her friend group, or a gun toting badass (not really a badass since every time she does something brave, she HAS to have her moment of “omg I just brutally murdered someone who was trying to brutally murder me for the 5th time tonight, I’m such a terrible person!”).

I couldn’t tell you who any of the other characters were. Their only personality traits were that they always had a keg on hand and somehow got a party going every single night.

And finally, this book wasn’t one of those better slasher movies I’ve seen so many people try and say it is. This book is Children of the Corn but instead of kids, there’s a bunch of Trump supporters who were the dumbest villains I think I’ve ever read. Even in the epilogue you see even more of their stupidity that’s supposed to be lain out as “social commentary” but completely takes away any semblance of fear you were supposed to have about these people. I would’ve loved this take on our current political situation had it been more thoroughly discussed. Instead it acts as the sole plot point for this story with a bunch of unremarkable characters in the way.

All in all, I regret wasting my credit on this book. I didn’t care for any of the characters and didn’t even know 99% of their names until they dropped dead. One thing I want to also say is that this book only has 2 acts. The build up, then the climax where nameless teens get slaughtered in the middle of a cornfield. No other interesting settings are explored unless you count a single sequence of crawling through a corn refinery, and there is no differentiation between scenes. It felt like I read the first act, then hit the climax, then epilogue. This book would’ve benefited so much if it either slowed down the pacing or gave us some actually interesting scenes. I hate to see such a great idea for social commentary get wasted on a book like this but oh well, maybe I’m the clown for believing this book would be as fun as watching Jason or Michael slaughter people 🤷‍♂️

5 people found this helpful

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Bland, Progressive , Shallow

The setting was perfect but hampered by the second half of the story feeling rushed; as if the author needed to blend horror with a fast paced but ultimately half baked action revenge flick.

The progressive, liberal attitude sprinkled in amongst the young characters along with the obligatory gay reveal was both trite and uninspired.

In short, this horror story rushed to the finish line...of the left leaning olympics. The prize: a sometimes entertaining but more often than not “meh fest” that I couldn’t recommend.

3 people found this helpful

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Great, fast-paced slasher story!

PROS: Genuinely shocked at how good this book was! Though it has YA undertones, it delivers a brutal 80's-slasher-esque tonality with subtle and not-so-subtle nods at current political commentary. Highly recommended for a quite gory read.

CONS: The almost cartoonic take on Midwest accents. These characters are from Missouri, but some of their accents sound like they grew up in rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan and were raised by caricatures of a stereotypical Canadian parent. The dialogue wasn't bad, but some of the characters having such an outrageous accent took away from the story.

2 people found this helpful

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Corn is as high as an evil clown's eye

If you have some nostalgia for 1990s slashers films then the audiobook for CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD is a fun diversion. You get the gore. You get the action. You get a group of distinct teen characters whom you genuinely hope survive the night.

If you are a parent debating the purchase for a teen reader and that reader has watched SCREAM or I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER they should be just fine with this book.

I always speed up the narration so for me narrator Jesse Vilinsky was great at 1.7x.

2 people found this helpful

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Slashers, Clowns, and Patriarchal Nightmares OH MY

I was on the edge of my seat, wanting to scream at the characters to do different things. The author did well balancing slasher horror and movie tropes with a fresh twist. This is definitely gory, not meant for younger readers...and that ending makes me wonder if there will be a sequel? Definitely fun, a great way to be entertained...but probably not something I would want to listen to or read very often but highly recommended as a slasher horror clown novel

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HAIL CESARE!

This was a fantastic listen. I really enjoyed the dynamic story that was created, kind of like a old school vs new school. I need to own this book. I highly recommend listening or reading this.

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Book was ok, narration was irritating. Political

The story was ok characters were pretty shallow and the backstory wasn't really given to merit what happens in the book. I think it's short length is what makes it better if it were much longer I couldn't have finished with the bad narration. Another review said the narrator does a "crying/trembling voice often" and I didn't listen because usually narration doesn't bother me but oh my I could not stand it. Typical stupid cowardly characters which were not the narrator's fault but her crying voice irritates me immensely. It's a short slasher story with a decent. outline but isn't really explained well.

UPDATE: I'm the last hour of the book it gets pretty political. Lots of talk about making America great again and snowflakes etc gets annoying trying to avoid politics.

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  • Tom Adams
  • 09-24-20

Slasher-fest meets clowns meets cornfields

This was a pretty entertaining listen (I downloaded the audio book) with a ‘Hot Fuzz’ vibe. You know, ‘deranged small-towners pitched against the heroes of the story with a tense and bloody conclusion’ kind of storyline. The main character, a girl called Quinn Maybrook, has been uprooted from Philadelphia when her father, a medic, takes up practice as a doctor in the town of Kettle Springs. They are both escaping the fallout of her mother’s self-inflicted death as a result of a heroin OD, and hope to make a new start in a quiet backwater. Some hope. The older generation are exasperated with the youngsters of the town, resenting their addictions to social media and smartphones. They are seemingly out of control and need to be taken in hand. In addition, the son of the town’s leading businessman, Cole is living under a shadow too. He is seen as responsible for his younger sister’s untimely death in an unfortunate diving accident, as well as burning down his father’s corn syrup plant in a fit of grief. The plant is also the town’s main employer. Hence further resentment is stirred towards the kids as Cole’s antics seem to exemplify all that is wrong with this ‘younger generation.’ But does this warrant the venting of fury that is the slash-fest befalling these youngsters when they attend an illicit party organised in a barn bordering a cornfield?
Frendo the clown seems to think so. He is the mascot of the aforementioned corn syrup plant and proceeds to dole out his particularly bloody brand of justice with crossbows and a circular saw.
The author is great at creating tension in a number of scenes, even as early as the opener. The characters are also well drawn and original. I felt Cesare didn’t fall too heavily into the typical teenage-angst-high-school-coming-of-age tropes and the storyline flowed nicely. That said, the plot didn’t really break new ground and there was nothing too surprising about the premise, other than that it mixed slasher with cornfields with clowns in an unusual combination. I also felt the additional theme of the younger misunderstood woke generation with an environmental consciousness was a bit shoe-horned at times. Still, the deft characterisation and scene description made up for this.
As regards the narration, Jess Vilinsky did a good job, injecting emotion into the scenes and the characters. Her diction was good and the style suited the horror genre. My only gripes were that she maintained a shocked/traumatised wobble with the narrator’s voice throughout the suspense scenes and I thought she should have confined this to the character’s voices for greater effect. Also she had a habit of leaving a brief pause when a dialogue tag was spoken which was slightly irritating. But, as I said, the overall impact was good and I looked forward to each session I had listening to this story.

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  • Stephen Gott
  • 09-23-20

Fractured America Meets Teen Slasher.

When the Maybrooks arrived in Kettle Springs,
it looks like they are in for the quiet life,after
a personal trauma in the city.
However, their new home is a microcosm of modern America, violent and divided. So after
the town mascot "Frendo The Clown" goes on a
murder spree, the Maybrooks and the lives of the
"good people" of Kettle Springs will never be the same again.
Enjoyable slasher with well developed characters that you care for, with some good twists in the tale.Marketed as a teen novel, but suitable for a more mature readership. Well narrated by Jesse Vilinsky and I look forward to Adam Cesare's next book.

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  • Hawt
  • 09-01-20

great ya thriller

I am not the target audience but if I had listened to this as a kid I would have loved it so am basing my review on that :)

the story and dramatisation would have had me head over heals with this in my teens - reminded me of how I remember point horror but I think this is a more grown up story than that (they were what I read as a teen back in the 90s!)

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  • The Dark Lord Sauron
  • 08-30-20

Great story well told

Adam Cesare continues grow as a writer and with this book he produces his best yet! In Clown in a Cornfield Cesare takes the time to create a world that feels real and peoples it with characters you actually care about. As a life long fan of the genre I have read a LOT of stuff by many many writers and so often the people are just there for things to happen to, not here, here you feel they have lives that are happening when they are not on the page and so when things start to go wrong you feel for these characters you have gotten to know and in some cases, care about. I read this just after reading the master's latest "If It Bleeds" and I'm sure Adam Cesare will be slightly chuffed that I enjoyed his latest outing much more! I look forward to see where he takes us next!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Zalman Livshiz
  • 01-04-21

pretty good horror story

This is basically another version of a Friday the 13th or Texas chainsaw massacre type story. Nothing too original here but if you're after typical horror fair with all the expected tropes you won't be disappointed

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-12-20

Best horror iv read all year

This had epic Stephen king vibes and a totally new and fresh storyline. Highly recommend.

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  • Zachary Ashford
  • 09-02-20

excellent

Cesare's best yet. A slasher story that's as fast-paced as it is entertaining. Bound to become a great movie.