Earlier this year, Adam Cesare was a guest on Brian Keene's podcast, The Horror Show With Brian Keene, and he spoke a bit about his upcoming novel, The Con Season. Ever since I heard Cesare first discuss this work, I'd been eager to check it out and nominated it during the author's recent Kindle Scout campaign. While I was disappointed for Mr. Cesare's loss, I was also very pleased to see him release the book immediately, which meant I finally got to plunk down my three bucks and give this a read.
Sometimes when you get hyped up about a work, it's almost inevitable to feel disappointment. How many movies trailers have you watched that convince you to buy in, only to be left cold by the final product, or worse, to find out that the movie completely sucked? It happens.
Thankfully, I came away from The Con Season a happy camper. Certainly much happier, at any rate, than Clarissa Lee, a washed-up and broke B-movie horror actress who, along with a handful of other horror actors and scream queens, agree to take part in the first annual Blood Camp Con. This convention promises to be unlike any other - part fan service, part performance art, it seeks to recreate the aesthetics of a slasher horror movie in real-life, with the celebrities unwittingly the victims.
Cesare uses The Con Season to cleverly deconstruct horror movies and fandom in Scream-like fashion, giving reader's a birds-eye view into the conventioneer's lifestyle, where they are both grateful and spiteful of their fans and their reliance on what is arguably a dark and parasitic relationship of who's using who.
The genre, and its inhabitants as both creator and consumer, are viewed through a glass darkly, allowing for moments of wry satire and bleak, knowing laughter. And although the book has some pretty dark examinations, you can still sense the appreciation Cesare has for his topic. As a horror writer, it's certainly his job to view things in, perhaps, a slightly skewed way, but it all comes from a place of deep affection and an examination of genre conventions (in both the literal conventions and in the tropes of horror works) without being overly reverential or nastily preachy. He's not afraid to skewer those things that need a good stabbing, and he is certainly a well-studied student of the horror genre and its permutations in book and film.
Most importantly, as far as I'm concerned anyway, it's just a fun, highly readable slasher story. Friday The 13th fans should feel right at home here, but it's the commentary that really earns this book high marks.