Mx3 Review: The Pumpkin Man by John Everson

October 19, 2011 Dorchester Publishing, Horror, Murders, Monsters, & Mayhem, Review 7

  • Paperback:320 pages
  • Publisher:DP (October 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1428512128
  • Source: Publisher

Jennica’s father was found brutally murdered just a few weeks ago.  His head was never found, only bloodied pieces of pumpkin were found scattered throughout his home. If his death wasn’t enough, Jennica and her roommate, Kirsten, are both laid off from their teaching jobs at a local Catholic school. Desperate to get away, Kirsten and Jenn head to California to check out the home left to Jenn when her aunt Meredith passed away.

They arrive at the home on the North California coast:

The movement of the sea against the rocks must brook a special power here, where the freshwater flows into the salt, where the earth rises from beneath both seeking the clouds.  The moments after dark are pregnant sounds, each clock tick an interruption of some thing driven by land and sea and air.  If you walk out into the grassy hills after nightfall, if you only still your own noise enough to take it in, you can feel it.  You can feel how the earth has fallen silent, how the breath of the day has drawn in.

Yes, there is a pause in the air where the earth awaits the next movement, the next chance to give and take life, like a tide of animation.  The brackish water is just an illusion before the maelstrom, for the power of that earthen pause may be the key to the magic hidden here.  The pause in the air is a conductor; a promise and a threat.


Jenn always knew her aunt to be “eccentric” but when they arrive they find evidence of this.  The bookshelves in her home are filled with ancient books on death, potions, and the like. One of the most interesting was a photo album filled with pictures of intricately carved pumpkins. The darkness of the home is pervasive, so after a night’s sleep they head out into town to stock up on food.

Upon arriving at the small town store, it doesn’t take long for Jenn to realize the townspeople didn’t have fond feelings about her aunt. Upon hearing where they were staying, an old man urges them to “go back to where you came from and live a happy life.”  They get the same response when they head to a local bar for a drink.  This time, the townspeople are a little more hostile, serving the girls a rat under a silver dome dish.

As the days pass, Jenn learns a bit more about her aunt and her uncle, George, often referred to as the Pumpkin Man. He was skilled at carving complex images into pumpkins.  Each year, people would look forward to his big creation for that year. Until a little boy goes missing and the pumpkin displayed that year resembles the face of the missing boy. The local legend now states that each Halloween, the Pumpkin Man carves the likeness of his victim into a pumpkin, forever trapping that individual’s soul in the gourd.

Upon investigating the house more, they uncover a host of secret passages, locked doors, and a dark & damp basement that the girls decide to avoid.  As they lit a fire in the stone fireplace, they uncover a hidden compartment within the stone. Inside, they find a Ouija board.

Desperate for human interaction outside of the unwelcoming town, the girls head down to San Francisco.  They meet two young men, who eventually come to visit the girls at the house.  They bring out the infamous Ouija board, attempting to contact Jenn’s father. The response they get is not what they expect, the board prompting them to “GET OUT NOW.” The girls assume it’s the boys attempting to frighten them and ask them to leave.  Jenn begins to question this, however.  She felt something in the air…something that compels her to want to learn more.  The bits of pumpkin found lying in her bedroom one morning urge her to realize this isn’t a joke.  Someone is trying to tell her something.

The brutal killings of decades before start happening again. This time, the victims are the parents of the children from the previous murders. The killer cannot be the same individual, for Jenn’s uncle was hunt down by the townspeople and killed. When they alert the local police, they are all too familiar with Jenn’s aunt and her husband.  They almost seem a bit lax in their investigation, as if they know they cannot track down the killer and put an end to the brutal crimes.

Jenn is certain all of this has to do with her aunt and the mysterious home in which she is living. Something ancient and evil has been unleashed, the only way to put an end to the killings, for good, lies within the books in her aunt Merdith’s library.

As with Everson’s other books, The Pumpkin Man doesn’t fail to send chills down the reader’s spine. It is full of everything a good horror book should contain: a spooky setting, mysterious deaths, a small down with dark secrets, as well as rich and detailed characters. Obviously not a book for someone with a weak stomach, but if you are looking for a terrifying book to read this Halloween, The Pumpkin Man is the book for you. Read it at night…alone…if you dare! Highly highly recommended!
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a guest post by the author, John Everson!



7 Responses to “Mx3 Review: The Pumpkin Man by John Everson”

  1. Joanna
    Twitter: joannamcneal

    Sounds perfectly creepy! Although it really has nothing in common with this movie, it still reminds me of the movie Trick ‘R Treat. Have you seen it? SO scary, but a perfect Halloween movie. Sort of in the style of old-school Tales from the Crypt.

  2. Anita

    Ok, I was getting chills just reading your review!! I’m not sure I’m up for this one, but it does sound spooky!!

  3. Julie Witt

    I’m getting ready to start this book and after reading your review I can’t wait!! Thanks for sharing:)