Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman (quiet horror)

Jack Durkin's family has been taking care of the menace in Lorne Field for three hundred years. Every day, he spends twelve hours extracting the plantlike Aukowies that continuously sprout from the ground. To the untrained eye, they look like simple weeds, but Jack knows that if allowed to grow, they become uncontrollable, ambulatory, and a threat to every living thing on the planet.

For a long time, the caretaker of Lorne Field was given a great deal of respect from the local residents. But this generation seems to have not been told of the importance of the position, because everyone below retirement age thinks Durkin's job is at best "a quaint tradition" and at worst a waste of the $8,000 annual stipend paid for by their taxes.

Durkin's first-born son, Lester, who is contracted to take over the job when he turns 21, is tired of being mocked (and called "Weedpuller") by his friends. And Durkin's wife, Lydia, is tired of barely scraping by on $8,000 a year — which was a lot of money when it was contracted for in 1869 but is half what Lester says he could make at McDonald's.

Lydia wants her husband to quit the ridiculousness and get a real job. And Jack wants to prove to the town that the blood-thirsty beasts he kills for twelve hours a day, six months a year, aren't just weeds.

The premise of The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a highly original one that grabs the reader from the first page. Author Dave Zeltserman also grounds his admittedly fantastic novel with fully human and relatable characters, especially Jack, whom you can't help but sympathize with as he meets persecution from almost everyone.

Belief in the Triffid-like Aukowies isn't necessary to the enjoyment of The Caretaker of Lorne Field, as Zeltserman leaves the truth open to interpretation. The appeal of the novel is in its ease of delivery, its confident voice, and its perfect length: relatively short for a modern novel.

Zeltserman has made quite a name for himself in the crime-fiction genre with his novels Outsourced, Killer, and Pariah among others. He shows an equally skillful hand at quiet horror with The Caretaker of Lorne Field.

1 comment:

paul levine said...

I'm a fan of Dave's work. Will read!

Related Posts with Thumbnails