The Woman

Jack Ketchum
The Woman Cover

The Woman


Every voracious reader has a guilty pleasure reads, admit it, you know you do. Maybe its precocious scared wizard children attending a secret school, or maybe its sparkly vampires, or maybe it's time traveling nurses who can't get home because they are too busy rolling in the hay with their "bonnie lad" of a husband. Whatever the case, these are the novels you are slightly embarrassed to admit you own, or feel like you should be checking the books out on your child's or partner's library card. Well for me it's zombie novels, followed only slightly by "splatterpunk" novels.

Splatterpunk is defined by the graphic violence within its pages, and Jack Ketchum has to be one of the masters of this sub-genre. The Woman is in fact the third book in his "Dead River" series. I guess I forgot that when I took the book out of the library. No matter, this is a self-contained story, although I plan to go back and read the first two at some point. The major problem with this story was the lack of character development, but as the main character, known only as "The Woman" is part of a tribe of cannibalistic cave dwellers in Maine featured in the first two novels, I'm sure there was more character development across the arc of the series. Although even as I was typing that line, unbidden came the thought "well maybe not." Splatterpunk novels are not necessarily known for character development and growth, mostly they are about how far the author can go with the graphic violence and get away with it.

There is lots and lots of violence in this book. It is clearly not for the faint of heart. On the surface this novel appears to be extremely misogynistic. Horrible things are done to the women in this book, all the women. But below the surface, they are strong woman characters, and express this strength by the end of the novel, all be it in some non-traditional ways. And that is one of the grand things about Splatterpunk. In most cases it allows the victims to eventually get in their licks in the end.

3.5 of 5 stars