Review: Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Rating: 9.0/10


In Adam Cesare’s terrifying young adult debut, Quinn Maybrook finds herself caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress—that just may cost her life.

Quinn Maybrook and her father have moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs, to find a fresh start. But what they don’t know is that ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. 

On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.

Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now. 


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Clown in a Cornfield for review consideration. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Clown in a Cornfield is a scary-good, nostalgic slashfest guaranteed to fulfill your John Carpenter ‘Halloween’ withdrawals. This one is destined for the big screen and couldn’t be a more timely monster. Who knew clowns and cornfields went so well together.

This novel had a couple of things going against it for me prior to diving in:

1. It sits in the YA genre, which isn’t one I dabble a whole lot in.
2. Cesare is an unknown author to me, so this would get treated as a “debut” novel in my case.

Having said that, I’d already seen some gushing reviews from people whose opinion I highly regard so I took an early stab (pun intended) and ended up absolutely captivated by this novel.

What starts out as a retro-slasher becomes something so much bigger than you could ever anticipate. I will admit that I thought I had the whole thing figured out around halfway or a little before, and boy was I EVER wrong. I feel like Cesare did that intentionally, and maybe he didn’t and I just read into the complete wrong things, but bravo anyway.

Cesare has built a perfectly paced novel here with some extremely genuine characters. While I feel that I don’t relate a single bit with teens these days, the author has written them in such a way that I actually kind of give a rip about their survival. Weird, right? Sort of feel like a boomer just writing that last bit, but I digress. The town of Kettle Springs feels like a mix between Haddonfield and Derry; a quiet, quaint little town that just so happens to be on its way to a bit of a body count. And we aren’t talking about leaf peepers rolling into town.

Since the book isn’t out for another five (5) months, I won’t say too much more about it. It is a bit of a slow burn at the beginning while you get a glimpse into the town, its goings on, and how Quinn and her father are adjusting, but when the fit hits the shan, it is a non-stop, white-knuckle thrill-ride that you’ll be begging to stay on. Just get ready for the blood; its super sticky.

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