Off Season (novel)

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Off Season
Off Season (novel).jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorJack Ketchum
CountryUnited States
PublisherBallantine Books
Publication date
Media typePrint

Off Season is a horror novel written by Jack Ketchum and initially published by Ballantine Books in 1980.[1] It was Ketchum's first novel[2] and was partially based upon the legend of Sawney Bean, which also inspired Wes Craven's 1977 cult classic horror film The Hills Have Eyes.[3]

The novel was extremely controversial upon release,[4] with many well-known publications attacking its depictions of extreme violence. Critical reaction to it was so strong, in fact, that Ballantine actually stepped back from supporting the novel. Despite initially strong sales, the publisher decided to withdraw it from circulation after the first printings were sold out. In 1999, the novel was picked up for re-publication by Cemetery Dance Publications and was released in an "unexpurgated edition" that featured some of the gore that Ballantine initially made Ketchum trim.


A group of friends from New York City travel to Dead River, Maine for a weeklong vacation by the coastline. Unbeknownst to them a clan of cannibalistic, inbred savages have taken up residency in a nearby cave. Over the course of a night they are brutally attacked by the savages. Gradually the friends start to lose their humanity, doing whatever it takes to survive their tormentors.[5]


  1. ^ Jones, Stephen; Kim Newman; Peter Straub (2005). Horror: another 100 best books. Running Press. pp. 383–384. ISBN 978-0-7867-1577-0.
  2. ^ "Ketchum while you can". The Sunday Times. Malta. May 18, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  3. ^ Vandermeer, Ann (2009). Weird Tales 350. Wildside Press. pp. 92–93. ISBN 978-1-4344-5031-9.
  4. ^ Castle, Mort (2006). On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers of America. Writer's Digest Books. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-58297-420-0.
  5. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2007). Icons of horror and the supernatural: an encyclopedia of our worst nightmares, Volume 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 487. ISBN 978-0-313-33782-6.