Review of THE SCREAMING FIELD by Keith Gouveia

I love horror movies about scarecrows. Any time that I come across one, I usually pick it up. That’s why I was so intrigued when AP Fuchs posted a link on his blog to Keith Gouveia’s THE SCREAMING FIELD: A Novel of Scarecrow Terror. I downloaded a copy immediately but forced myself to wait until the rest of my list had been read. Was it worth the wait?

***WARNING!!!SPOILERS!!!***

Tommy inherits his grandfather’s farm after his grandfather dies. We are introduced to his attractive mother, who entered into a marriage of convenience after his father’s untimely death. We are introduced to said stepfather, who is a major jerk. We are introduced to his childhood crush, Pam, who wants to be more (with the feeling being mutual). We are introduced to the obligatory jerk of an ex-boyfriend, Matt, and his buddies.

I was expecting situations to spiral out of control between Tommy and Matt. I was expecting the same with his stepfather. Admittedly, Gouveia surprised me by just what happened. Here’s what I was expecting: Tommy’s grandfather’s scarecrow somehow becomes sentient and kills Matt and his friends and, possibly, Tommy’s stepfather. Despite the fact that they all deserved it, Tommy would realize that, to protect his mother and the woman he loves, he would have to find a way to destroy the horror.

That’s not what happened at all. Instead, Tommy was killed by accident and BECAME the scarecrow. From that point forward, whenever we would see from the point of view of other characters when the scarecrow would subtly do things like appear to be staring at them or moving on his own in the back seat of the police car (don’t ask . . . you’ll just have to read it), the author shows that he has an absolute talent for creepiness. However, I didn’t really enjoy the parts where we see things from Tommy’s point of view after he becomes the scarecrow. It just seemed to destroy the mysteriousness for me. I also must admit that some of the characters who died . . . as well as some of those who survived . . . really bothered me.

The final chapter brought everything back in and took me from being slightly disappointed to hungering for a sequel. And, darn it, I can’t discuss why without ruining pretty much everything.

The book had quite a bit of rough language in it and some sexual innuendo, though none of it was over the top. With the violence factor, think “R-rated” horror film. Keep the kids away. Otherwise, I’d give it four out of five stars.

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