oh, man, this book. i thought i knew what i was getting into and i was so wrong.
it’s YA with balls and a vintage horror cover i wanna marry, about a girl named quinn who moves from big city philly to ketttle springs, missouri—a small town saturated with its own secrets and tragedies; a town struggling to get by; a town trying to make itself great again; a town whose corn syrup mascot, frendo the not-at-all-creepy clown is part and parcel of their heartland identity of diners and parades and old-fashioned values.
but this book goes from suggestive smalltown creepiness to
and it never lets up.
once city-girl quinn falls in with the kettle springs’ cool kids, she soon notices that the relationship between the adults and her new friends seems fraught, tense. at first, it’s unclear which side is really causing the strain—if the blame falls on delinquent teens or sinister adults, so for a good long while we don’t know whether we’re dealing with a variation of Children of the Corn/Village of the Damned, or Mom and Dad, or maybe even a Wicker Man situation.
but no. it’s sort of some of these but it’s also its very own thing that is still, unfortunately, our thing, and it gets so, so splattery. you might be tempted to say, while reading this, “that would never happen,” but i am no longer convinced there’s a level to which we won’t sink. america is broken, send in the fucking clowns.
it’s way more brutal than i was expecting for YA. it builds slowly up to its action sequences, but once it gets there, it’s relentless in its violence. when the blood starts flowing, there’s probably a lot you’ll predict, but there are still some things that’ll sneak up on you. the way a clown sneaks up on you.
don’t be afraid. it’s just a clown in a cornfield.