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3-minute book review: Everson carves Halloween classic with 'Pumpkin Man'

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The book: ‘The Pumpkin Man’ by Bram Stoker Award-winning author John Everson was previously published by Dorchester Publishing and is now available on Amazon Kindle.

The story: Chicago teacher Jennica Murphy decides to visit the northern California cottage she inherited after her father's mysterious murder. Accompanied by her best friend Kirstin, Jenn arrives in River’s End to find a house filled with arcane secrets and a town terrorized by a local bogeyman called the Pumpkin Man. When a familiar pattern of murders hit the town of River’s End, Jenn realizes the Pumpkin Man is no mere legend, but a force of evil with a thirst for revenge.

Opening lines: ‘Meredith took the man’s hand in hers and gave it a reassuring squeeze. She’d worked a long time to bring him here. His palms were clammy; she could smell his fear. He had every reason to be afraid.’

The review: ‘The Pumpkin Man’ is a horror novel inspired by the urban legends of childhood and a throwback to the days of John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and the original 'Friday the 13th' and 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' franchises.

'The Pumpkin Man' features a Ouija board, dark witchcraft, a serial killer on the loose, corpses with missing heads, and a town’s violent history.

It also has pumpkins and knives, and it's not afraid to use them.

When Jenn and Kirstin travel to the California cottage in River’s End, they discover a house filled with the tools of witchcraft, including books with recipes for spells and jars of ingredients for potions.

Jenn’s deceased Aunt Meredith used to live in the house and earned a reputation in town as the local witch. Jenn learns her late aunt didn't just dabble in witchcraft, but practiced it hard-core, incorporating blood and bones into her work.

When a murder spree similar to one decades ago continues to hit close to home, Jenn investigates her family’s secrets to find a way to stop the Pumpkin Man before he kills again.

A master of horror fiction, the author Everson effectively mixes in a handful of potential Pumpkin Man suspects without sacrificing the pace or the suspense.

For fans of the scary B movies of the '70s and '80s, Everson's 'The Pumpkin Man' is a creepy and nostalgic blast to the past and one of the few horror novels that deserve the tag 'modern Halloween classic.'

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