Clown in a Cornfield

Standalone Book - No Series
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Quinn Maybrook just wants to make it until graduation. 
She might not make it to morning.

Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.

Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.

“She hopped out of the way, nearly run over by a massive clown riding a tiny bicycle. No, not a clown, that clown. The town’s clown. The one who stared all night into her bedroom window, peering from the side of the burned-down Baypen factory. Pervo? Mervo? Frenco? Yes, Frendo. That was it.”

Quinn and distraught father find out the hard way that leaving behind something miserable may put you in the path of something far worse. Things are just about to unfold and get downright nasty right when they’re unloading that last packing box.

Tension is felt starting day one as Quinn meets a surly group of teens who spend as much time sneering at local adults as the adults spend sneering back in their direction. Conceptionally it kind of reminds me of a reverse Children of the corn.

Small towns hold some of the best potentials of plot for horror filled tales such as this one. The town becomes a character in itself as it dishes out the history of Frendo the clown as the official pet mascot. We even get a town fair that’s the event of the year to start the party off hardy.

Characters are layered well considering this is a form of slasher fare; they aren’t just token red-shirts waited to get killed off without eliciting any emotion on behalf of the reader. That isn’t to say all characters are likeable – but they are realistic enough. Quinn as the main character is worthy of the role, although she gets annoying at times, especially when she starts on her anti-gun tirade (this changes later.)

An example –

“Quinn shook her head. If it gave Janet a bit more comfort, thinking she had a loaded gun and could defend herself, then maybe that revenge fantasy could keep the girl awake and alive. The answer certainly couldn’t be leaving her with a loaded handgun.”

Really, Quinn, why not? There’s only a demented killer on the loose, and you’re thinking it’s not wise to leave a frightened and wounded girl alone with a gun that would actually protect her? Egads.

Not smart, Quinn, not smart.

Character annoyances aside - and truthfully there really aren’t many of them - the writing style flows well to suit the story. Slashers aren’t the most complex of plots, but this one serves up a suitable motive and a cult-sized mentality that keeps the story interesting enough to be something other than simple hack-and-slash entertainment.

Violence-wise, there’s plenty to be had after enough character development and build-up. Don’t let the YA genre tag throw you off that expectation. Decapitations, crossbows, fire, chainsaws, guns, weapons you’d find around a farm or with everyday country folk looking to throw down and have a good time around the party barn. Blood isn’t let out in a geyser rush for the sake of cheapened shock value, but without at least a tad, we’d feel cheated. The author delivers. Killer clowns and cornfields need tools, right?

I’ve seen some readers mention this has a cinematic feel that would translate well to the TV screen. They’re right. The writing works and doesn’t come across as a dry screenplay style, but the story is something you find in a teen-aimed, slasher-style scare flick.

Hobbies of YouTube video upload, social media reputations, and even Yelp shout-outs keep this one dated to the modern age.

Well-written and downright fun, this one earns its rep. Clown in a Cornfield is a good time to be had for fans of horror, even if slasher-type, or even YA, isn’t your usual favorite.

Book Quotes

“Quinn looked to the horizon as the cornstalks swayed with the breeze. The corn itself could have been waving hello, or it could have been breathing.”



This book was read as part of 2020's Hallow-Reads.

It was also used in the American Horror Story Reading Challenge under Season 4: Freakshow (see original tweet announcement here.)

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