The Woman

January 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

womanThe Woman by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McGee

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Ketchum goes back to the well for several drinks of water with this novel. For one, it’s the third in the series of books that started with Off Season; for two, his story centers around a woman held captive by a man; and for three, to make his antagonist even more despicable, he has him rape his own child. So there’s a lot of familiar territory with this story.

What makes this story unique is that he takes the antagonist from Offspring and turns her into the protagonist here. That’s no small feat, considering that the titular woman in Offspring led a family of feral cannibals to attack people and steal their children. Here, she’s suffering from several wounds received in the previous book, and looking for a means to survive and get better. A misogynistic, power-hungry man spots her and kidnaps her, keeping her chained in his root cellar. He even brings his family — wife, son, and two daughters — in on his deed, claiming that he’s attempting to rehabilitate her.

Like the rest of Ketchum’s stories, this one moves quickly. There are fewer squicky moments here, though once the woman does get loose, she goes on the expected reign of carnage. The crazy thing is that, for once, her carnage is deserved; she gets back at those who tortured her, and even shows some compassion to those who showed some to her. For a character who showed little recognition of outsiders as anything but food in the previous novels, it felt a bit like a stretch, though Ketchum did give a good reason for it.

Readers who enjoyed Off Season and Offspring probably owe it to themselves to finish the series with this book, as well as fans of any of Ketchum’s works. Its repetition makes it feel derivative, but that could also be due to my having read so much of Ketchum’s works back-to-back. As of now, I only have one left, and as good as most of these books have been, I look forward to moving on to someone else’s view of the world. One with a nice positive outlook would be nice right about now.

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