Off Season (novel)

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Off Season
Off Season (novel).jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Jack Ketchum
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror
Publisher Ballantine Books
Publication date
Media type Print

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.


The story follows a group of friends from New York City who travel to Dead River, Maine for a weeklong vacation by the coastline. Unbeknownst to them, however, a clan of inbred and cannibalistic savages has taken up residence in a secluded cave very close to them, and after night falls they are attacked by the marauders, forcing them to become as depraved and barbaric as their tormentors are in an effort to survive.[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.