Jack Ketchum's 'Ladies' Night': A Review
It seems like Ketchum is often associated with two of my favorite writers: Brian Keene and Richard Laymon. So I decided to give one of his novels a try. Out of all of them, 'Ladies' Night' intrigued me the most. There are plenty of stories about men turning serial killer, but its not often a story shows a mob of women turning into bloodthirsty savages. Don't get me wrong, I've never considered myself, or have ever been accused of, being chauvinistic or sexist, I just wondered what it would look like from the other side of the coin. Interestingly, the part of the story that appealed to me the most is the introduction, in which Ketchum talks about the difficulties he's faced trying to get 'Ladies' Night' published. I can honestly see after reading the book, why no one wanted to pick it up at first. Let's face it, not only is the subject matter controversial, but the story isn't really all that good.
Something dark lurks in the air once the wreckage of an 18 wheeler is discovered, it's strange contents, imported from Ladies. Inc, is a cherry scented chemical that is quickly being absorbed into the clean air. The inhaled compound turns women into crazed killers who crave the spilled blood of men.
Tom is sitting at the local bar, drinking off the latest fight with his wife when the establishment begins being overrun by the female patrons and employees. As one by one the men fall, Tom does his best to escape. Out on the street, the chaos is maddening. Dead bodies litter the street, buildings are being vandalized and set fire to and blood stained women comb the streets like rabid dogs looking for prey. That doesn't matter as Tom realizes that he left his young son alone with his mother, who is undoubtedly turned into a monster. As he traverses the treacherous streets, fighting his way home, Tom fears for his son's well being. Despite the struggle, will Tom arrive in time? Or is it already too late?
I can really understand why Ketchum had such a hard time getting this book published. It's pretty offensive and I'm not sure I would have published it either. Most women will probably be outraged about the way they're depicted, which is understandably so. On the other hand, it was kind of comical seeing the men play the damsels in distress in a satisfying role reversal. With that said, the book isn't anything special. The plot was unique but the characters are pretty generic. Some of the women that are under the influence of that chemical are memorable, but none of the central characters stood out. To be completely honest, I think Ketchum is trying to hard to add gore to the story. Sadly, it doesn't really add anything to the novel as a whole and it all seems unnecessary. I really had to force my way through the book. If this is all that Ketchum has to offer, I think I'm going to pass.... two stars.
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