Book Review: ‘The Con Season’ by Adam Cesare

Note: this review originally appeared on my old blog (The Fiction & Film Emporium). I hope you enjoy.

the con season

Written by Adam Cesare

Published by Black T-Shirt Books

Plot is as follows:

Horror movie starlet Clarissa Lee is beautiful, internationally known, and…completely broke.

To cap off years of questionable financial and personal decisions, Clarissa accepts an invitation to participate in a “fully immersive” fan convention. She arrives at an off-season summer camp and finds what was supposed to be a quick buck has become a real-life slasher movie.

Deep in the woods of Kentucky with a supporting cast of B-level celebrities, Clarissa must fight to survive the deadly game that the con’s organizers have rigged against her.

Plot summary taken from the Amazon product description. 

‘The Con Season’ is a horror novel for horror fans. It’s takes a literary dive into the slasher genre, bathing us in gore and plenty of knowing winks.

Adam Cesare’s newest work operates on multiple levels. It’s outside is a highly inventive bloody romp, the written equivalent to so many classic 1980’s gore-fests. After the blood begins to flow you start to see the hidden skeleton beneath. It’s clear that Cesare not only understands the tropes and clichés, but that’s he’s willing to subvert and morph them to deliver a thrilling adventure that never grows stale under decades of genre history and expectations.

Our characters are introduced as a variety of known horror archetypes. The mastermind, the killer, the final girl, the tough guy and the level headed leader. My concern going in was that Cesare would stick to those well worn clichés and that the book would suffer. Thankfully, he avoids it. Clarissa is a great character, layered with the all too real fears and concerns that an aging actress would have. The major slashed villain, The Fallen One (awesome name!) was terrifying in a very visceral way. The rest of the cast, mostly filled in with aging horror celebrities and other villains, do a fantastic job of fleshing out this horrific novel.

As horror fans we love to worship our icons. Any self respecting fan gets a little excited when Jamie Lee Curtis drops in for a cameo or when Barbara Crampton plays a leading role in some indie piece. ‘The Con Season’ plays into that nostalgia, lampooning horror conferences and demonizing the worst corners of the fandom.

Cesare is a very skilled writer, using a clear knowledge of horror pitfalls to make his high concept seem plausible at every turn. His open ending left me pondering where this story goes next. ‘The Con Season’ is a horror movie turned into a horror novel. What kind of ending are we getting?

‘The Con Season’ is a lean and mean novel. It pulls no punches. Filled with interesting characters and some truly thrilling sequences, this is a novel that everyone should immediately go out and download.

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