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Publisher's Summary

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 The evil that once coursed through Pine Deep has been replaced by cheerful tourists getting ready to enjoy the country’s largest Halloween celebration in what is now called “The Spookiest Town in America.”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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

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Diet Stephen King

"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.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Maybe I'm just inflexible...

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.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenton
  • Highland Park, IL, United States
  • 11-25-14

Reads like a high school creative writing project

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mari
  • Farmington, MN, United States
  • 11-01-11

This isn't a story its a lesson in adjectives.

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.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Hard to Follow

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

NO

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I'm having a hard time getting through this one

I usually like books by this author but this one is really slow not getting to the point and I'm not enjoying the narrator's voice. I'm having a hard time getting lost in the book. I just keep stopping and listening to some of the other books in my library. I think I will be returning this. I read the reviews for the third one in the third one they say is good but this one is hard to get through and the second one I read was the same

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THIS was rated above a 4!??? Terrible, move on

Terrible, high school dialogue, narrator was so-so but the story dragged. It never really had ANY action until about 4 hours into it. The characters were someone flat. I did like the story line of The kid and his abusive step dad and apparently some dark secret buried there...but the story was filled with such fluff (to make it a trilogy maybe?), you never know....

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Second time around.

Love this trilogy. This was my first Jonathan Maberry book and it opened up a whole world of wonderful stories by the awesome author. When he puts pen to paper (so to speak) I swear I can sense it in my bones!

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I miss Joe Ledger

Can't believe this is the same author. And the narration was among the poorest I've heard.

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very dark story

I like Mr Mayberry's short stories much better. very long and very dark, not the entertainment I enjoy.