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Brian Keene's 'Ghoul': A Review

Updated on April 16, 2012


Pages: 322


After reading Keene's 'The Rising' and 'City of the Dead', I think I may have put him on a bit of a pedestal. I was extremely excited when I came across 'Ghoul', and almost giddy when I read that the story was being reworked for film. However, I hope my pedestal for Keene wasn't built too early as 'Ghoul' left me sadly disappointed. This story is definitely more of a tall tale than an urban legend.

The story focuses on the lives of three young friends and their journey through adolescence. Timmy Graco is the main protagonist for this story. He along with his friends Doug and Barry, are spending their summer as any boy would until some strange disappearances start plaguing their small town. A chance encounter in the local cemetery lead the trio on a quest to discover what sinister being is responsible for the new chaos. As the boys dig deeper into the gritty details of the recent cemetery vandalism, they come across some of the grisly remains of the missing residents. Skeletons from each of the boys' closets are uncovered that are just as equally disturbing.

Not necessarily a story about innocence, but about accepting truths. Each boy has his own demons and suffering some sort of abuse. As the reader, we delve more into how each character deals with their issues. While the ghoul plays a big role, it's almost worked in as a side note instead of the main focus. I was anticipating a suspenseful horror novel, but what I got was a modern coming of age story. As the tale concentrates more on each boys' life and how they deal with conflicts. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I feel a little duped. Sure, there are a few creepy scenes, but most of the action unfolds in the last forty pages. The novel is completely predictable. There is one minor detail at the end of the book that I didn't see coming, but I was always one step ahead of the author. The 80s theme is unrealistic. With the exception of some pop culture name dropping, the story fits rather nicely placed in a 50s backdrop. It just doesn't quite click. With that said, I won't give up on Keene. 'Ghoul' is still an enjoyable read, and a page turner at that. I finished the book, cover to cover, in five days. I'm going to give this novel three stars. It's predictability is the main contributor to such a "ghoulish" score.


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    • YimmyP profile image

      James Pagatpatan 5 years ago from Washington State

      Thank you. You're right, there were a lot of accurate pop culture name drops to suggest an 80's time era. It's just that as I was reading the story, it was just the impression that I got. With the introduction of video games and MTV etc. most kids were more inclined to stay inside rather than make their own entertainment. Plus the sleepy little town where women and children acted so subservient just suggests and older time frame to me.

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      Pat Dreadful 5 years ago

      Nice review. Personally, I love Ghoul but I am a total sucker for a well told coming of age story.

      I’m curious what didn’t click with the 80’s theme? I thought Keene did a great job of incorporating the comics, television, music and films of the era into the plot.