Book review: The Secret Life of Souls by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee

 

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dallas William Mayr (November 10, 1946 – January 24, 2018), better known by his pen name Jack Ketchum, was an American horror fiction author. He was the recipient of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations. His novels included Off Season, Offspring, and Red, the latter two of which were adapted to film. In 2011, Ketchum received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre.
Publisher: Pegasus Crime (November 8, 2016 ) Page count: 240 Formats: ebook, audiobook, paperback

The Secret Life of Souls is my first foray into Jack Ketchum’s books, and it certainly won’t be my last. It’s about a dysfunctional family, fame, money, accidents, and a little girl and her dog. It’s also about the need for empathy and tenderness. And lost souls.
Eleven-year-old Delia Cross is a talented young star on the rise, and she’s on the verge of a big break with a network sitcom. Her parents, Pat and Bart, enjoy her success and profit from it. Delia and her twin brother feel that their parents’ ambitions are more self-serving than supportive. Delia is deeply alone in her own world, save for her dog. But things get even bleaker – an unexpected accident breaks the family life and unveils the true face of everyone.
First things first, Ketchum’s writing style is captivating and minimalist. It gives a vivid picture of a dysfunctional family and the preternatural bond between a little girl and her dog. It also hits you in the feels when you expect it the least. Now, some of you may think that it’s a cozy or sentimental read. It isn’t and you should be prepared for something entirely different and memorable.
Ketchum delves into the darker corners of the human spirit, exposing the raw and sometimes painful truths people often try to ignore. It slowly unveils the monstrous nature of someone every child should rely on. Trust me when I say this book will leave a lasting impression on you.
A few words about Caity – she’s a good dog. Heck, she’s an extraordinary dog whose role develops from protector to savior, and ultimately, from avenger to survivor. She’s a selfless soul navigating a world consumed by self-interest and an amazing companion.
I won’t give the book a full five stars because the beginning feels meandering and quite boring. But if you wait a bit, you’ll understand it sets the stage for brutal twists and turns, and a hint of preternatural. The Secret Life of Souls explores bleak topics: toxic parent-child relationships, child stardom, and people’s hunger for media. It’s also about a girl who is deeply alone in her own world, save for her dog.
The Secret Life of Souls is a deeply affecting novel. It takes a while to get going, but once it gets there, it’s unputdownable.

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