Clowns - Michael Kamp
Clowns was an interesting experience for me. The author had submitted it as a children’s horror, but when I started reading it, there were a few things that raised questionable flags. Namely, the amount of cursing in Clowns. I tabled the question about the cursing to ask the author about later, and continued to read the book. And I enjoyed it. This is the first book I’ve read by Michael Kamp, but I will definitely be checking out more of his work when it makes the jump to English.
In regards to the cursing, there’s definitely a cultural difference present. In Michael’s home country cursing is a lot more acceptable, so this would be a good book for 10+ there. Here, though, in America, booksellers would probably be publicly shamed if they tried to shelve this in the kid’s section. Clowns would be considered appropriate for a 12+ audience here, and not even that if your undies are kept in a constant bunch by the idea of kids reading foul language. There were one or two other things that made me aware that this was not a book written by someone who lived in America. Nothing as potentially offensive as the cursing was, just a “Hm. No chance of that happening here.”
However, for all the differences, a small town is a small town. And some things remain the same where ever you are. In this case, you have hooligans hitting mailboxes and pretending they’re big and bad. Gossip that spreads like wildfire. A tale of terror that ends in death. Finally, of course, there’s the mystery and the intrepid young survivor. Kamp takes familiar elements and, adding his own touch, gives readers a story of blood and guts.
Clowns was well-written and perfect for anyone who loved the movie Killer Klownz from Outer Space. While it doesn’t quite achieve that level of camp, Kamp’s Clowns channels that same absurd-horror feel. There are a few scenes that are so well imagined that the can easily get a great mental picture of them. Michael Kamp has the ability to put his readers so neatly into the story that you can practically smell the forest and face paint. Oh, and I loved the reference to Night of the Living Dead as well.
A few lines that made me laugh:
“The whole scary clown craze had started in the U.S. Because of course it did.”
“Oscar looked at him in silent amazement. Did adults realize how much their advice usually sucked? ‘Think about something else…’"
Overall, Kamp’s Clowns is a great piece of short fiction, coming in at just 92 pages. It’s definitely the correct length for a younger reader’s book, but parental discretion is advised. This would be a great gift to give to your family coulrophobe for Halloween (or Christmas, depending on how evil you are).
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author free for review consideration.