Clown in a Cornfield (2020) – Adam Cesare

Some times you know everything you need to know by the title of the book, and Adam Cesare’s Clown in a Cornfield is exactly that, a spin on the slasher teen genre this is a rapid-fire read, that tells you exactly what you are getting into with the title.

Quinn, and her doctor father, have just moved to Kettle Springs, Missouri from Philadelphia. She’s anxious about starting a new school, and within moments of stepping in class, finds herself in trouble with the teacher, and falling in with a group of teens who are all about the views of their social media platforms.

The kids want to be themselves, the adults in the town wish for the way things used to be with the young folks having a measure of respect, and at least looking like they are willing to make an effort instead of behaving in an entitled and privileged way.

When things go wrong at an annual parade, there is a lot of discussion from the city planners, and the residents.

But I don’t think anyone is ready for things to play out the way they do when the kids have an annual party at a deserted barn and its surrounding cornfield, and the town’s mascot, a terrifying clown named Frendo, steps out of the corn stalks with a crossbow and starts claiming young lives.

From there it’s a fast-paced, breathless rush through the fields as dangers are confronted, secrets are revealed, and anyone and everyone can be a target.

Despite being hit with the Young Adult classification, there is a lot of horrifying things happening in this book, and it doesn’t pull its punches just because it’s supposedly aimed at teen readers. The violence and blood drenches the second half of the book, and it doesn’t let up until the final page.

Cesare has created a terrifying page-turner that grabs you by the throat and leaves you gasping as you race to the story’s conclusion. The set-up and the follow through feel like explorations of basic horror tropes but he does it exceedingly well, and Frendo is absolutely terrifying, there are traces of Michael Myers in there (that head tilt he does feels like a perfect homage) and of course, one can’t think of clowns and horror without thinking of It.

Frendo is terrifying though because you know he is a human monster under the mask, and that makes him very scary. Cesare’s characters have a relatable reality to them and the immediacy of his writing puts you right in the midst of his tale, this is a book I didn’t want to put down, and was always of the mindset of ‘just one more chapter.’

I can’t wait to see what he does with the follow-up!

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