To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Slow to start and early characterisation of participants too stereotypical. However, the later part of the book reflecting the dealings with court case and 'expert' psychologists was very well done and, sadly, very close to reality (almost identical to a recent case in Australia involving a girl, "Lucy", - 'experts' considered the mother hysterical and allowed unsupervised visiting rights to the father. Ketchum has produced a well written and believable scenario which is a serious indictment of legal systems which favour criminals and fail to protect victims adequately.
Really hard to decide on a star rating. The subject matter is appalling and this made it hard to read for me. However i would also label it as horrifying so it does exactly what it's supposed to do. I'm still struggling to decide so i'll say this.
I absolutely hate the subject matter so award it ZERO stars for this part. It is very well written and extremely powerful so award it FOUR stars for this part. It absolutely has horrified me so award it FIVE stars for this part.
Gonna plump for FOUR stars overall because i can't even write this review without feeling horrid.
This 99p kindle special was my first taste of Jack Ketchum's somewhat dark mind ... and I had trouble putting it down! (Not that I needed to very often - it's actually pretty short).
The story revolves around a woman that's escaped one abusive husband only to get involved with another. I don't want to say too much because if I do it may give away the story, and I think you need to read that for yourself.
Suffice to say that I was sufficiently disturbed by the dark characters Ketchum creates. I found myself rooting for the "good" guys often - unsurprising you might say. True, but what was different here was that I genuinely didn't know who was going to come out on top. Ketchum could easily take you either way and it's only right at the end that the full truth of everything is revealed.
My first encounter with Jack Ketchum's work was reading his novel 'Red'. A somewhat slim book, I finished reading it in one day. You know if a book is going to be worthwhile usually after the first couple of chapters, and the time spent reading 'Red' was thoroughly worthwhile. It still remains one of the best pieces of fiction I have encountered, which brings me to ... 'Only Child'.
Like 'Red', this novel is fairly slim. But that is as it should be. There is no room for wasted words in Jack's writing. He gets to the point quickly and effectively, inviting his readers into a nightmare journey - a mixture of fiction and reality. It is exactly this juxtaposition of taboo realism and carefully crafted fictional characters that lends Jack's writing its uniqueness. He deals with the cruelty and evil inherent in society, bringing such issues to the surface, almost as if he is attempting to release his anger by way of writing.
Violence in 'Only Child' is extreme and, at times, graphically depicted, much like the work of Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, and Edward Lee. Essentially, Jack's horror is about the experiences some people suffer everyday of their lives - people who want to escape from their tormentors but are too terrified to take a stand, because of the consequences should they fail. Lydia McCloud, however, does make a stand.
Married to the fraudulently good-natured Arthur Danse, Lydia soon discovers his dark side. For Danse does not adhere to the rules of society. Undoubtedly disturbed, Danse believes he is here for a reason ... to ensure that he teaches humankind that both fear and pain are necessary, and that he has been chosen to inflict such pain on anyone who refuses his demands. His disturbing behaviour is not limited to the unfortunate people he encounters outside his family - rather it is Lydia and his young son, Robert, who are most at risk.
Jack Ketchum has created two strikingly different characters here. Lydia is imbued with inner strength, a giving nature, and an understanding of what really counts in life. Arthur Danse is cruel, calculating, and possesses a relentless determination to both control and hurt people.
The message behind this book is that good can triumph over evil if the victim is able summon enough courage to face their tormentor. 'Only Child' takes a realistic and accurate view of domestic violence and child abuse. It explores the psychological aspects of such abuse from the viewpoint of both antagonist (Danse) and protagonists (Lydia, Robert, and anyone else who, along the way, dares to question Arthur Danse).
I once knew a mother and daughter who were subjected to physical and psychological violence and abuse within a domestic environment, and can therefore relate to this story.
'Only Child' should be remebered alongside Thomas Harris's 'Silence of the Lambs' as one of the best psychological thrillers of violence ever written. Jack's writing is both dark and powerful; his subject matter disturbing yet insightful. Certainly unforgettable.
As with any Jack Ketchum novel this was very disturbing and unsettling, especially if you read it one sitting as I did. However definitely recommended as required reading for any true horror fan, others to try are Lost and the Girl next door for something truly horrifying to read!
Stranglehold will do just that. It will grab you, and not let you go until the very end. At a level that only Jack Ketchum can bring, this story is shocking, disturbing, powerful, infuriating, and not at all for the squeamish. He will slap you in the face with the worst of humanity in an unflinchingly realistic approach that will leave you breathless. This story is a stark reminder on how our system utterly fails to serve kids in court. I highly recommend it if you think you can stomach it.
Jack Ketchum is one of my favourite Authors but this book is not among his best work. It just doesn’t contain the same bite that booms like Girl Next Door, Red, The Lost, or Peaceable Kingdom hold. I finished this about a month ago, and am already forgetting about it.