I’ve always wanted to go to summer camp (as mentioned here), but – and call me picky if you will – I want to go to a happy summer camp. That’s all eleven year old Martin wants too. He’s going to learn archery, go swimming, and make new friends. Maybe he’ll even meet a girl – nothing too serious, it is bible camp after all. He never really intended to go to camp, but when his mother needs to go out town for several weeks for a job – she’s a horror movie make-up artist – he’s willing to take one for the team. It may even be…fun.
But that’s because no one showed him the cover of this book.
That’s right. Martin’s bible camp is a horror movie. He just doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll find out soon enough. The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau is a solid, charming take on the camp slasher film subgenre, in book form. This novel is the reworking of Comeau’s novella Bible Camp Bloodbath. It’s still a rather slim novel, but it’s fitting. Having never done it myself, it seems like it would be tough to write a horror novel. After all, it’s not an easy task to make (most) people want to read about decapitation, scalping, and blood spatter. It’s even harder to imbue such a novel with a sense of family, nostalgia, and humor.
“Wait, wait, wait,” he said, and everyone stopped to listen. “This is about those children I murdered, isn’t it?” He laughed. “Listen,” he said. “If you spare the axe, you spoil the child.”
The characters are exactly who they are supposed to be. There’s naïve Martin who understands how horror movies are supposed to work, the unstable, but loving mother, clueless (but horny) camp counselors, a sadistic, yet seemingly affable head priest, and hordes of know it all campers. The killer is exactly who you think it is, the over the top killings happen as you might imagine, and there’s blood – lots of it. Yet it works. Comeau has created a novel that’s thematically equal parts coming of age story and campy ‘80s slasher movie. If you know this going in, and the idea sounds appealing, you’ll like this odd little novel. If not, skip this one, the sort of gleeful mayhem found in this book is not for everyone.
So….’80s slasher movies? Yay or nay? I love them, but mostly because they make me jump without really scaring me. Friday the 13th is my favorite and I LOVE The Finals Girls.
Pair this one with cake, red velvet in particular (I don’t know that’s there is a more appropriate choice). If you can still eat. It’s the dinner Martin and his mother choose when they go out to celebrate her new job.