The Kill

4.5 Overall Score

Nice setting

Poor execution of what was potentially a good story

Book Info

Book Title:  The Kill

Publisher:  Tor Book

Writer:  Alan Ryan

Release Date:  1982


Alan Ryan

Something is stalking the woods of Deacons Kill in the Catskills.  The first victim is a young girl lost in the woods, but her death is soon followed by the death of a woman at a party…the attack secretly recorded.  Escaping the bustle of New York City, Megan and Jack have just moved into a home at the edge of the woods and don’t realize how close to horror they really are.  The thing in the woods is testing the boundaries of the forest and killing it could be impossible.

Written by Alan Ryan (May 17, 1943-June 3, 2011), The Kill is a supernatural horror story.  The book has been in print for years and is available for download on

I saw the cover for The Kill when I was young and the book was new.  The image of a Raggedy Ann doll lying over a fence, bloody and abandoned, stuck with me and I always wanted to read the book.  Years later when reminded of the cover, I sought it out…and the story in my imagination was much better than the actual book.


eBook version

Ryan comes off a low-rent Stephen King in this novel.  He writes in a similar style but he never quite gets the characters down like King who is one of the best character writers in my opinion (he always creates realistic, attainable characters regardless if his plots work).  Here, Megan and Jack are paper thin and make strange decision about their future…like moving into a house where an unexplained murder occurred in the nearby woods.  It also introduces too many character including the parent of the murdered girl, the guy who taped the murder of the woman, and Martin Ferrand who “knows” what the creature is that is killing things…and didn’t report it for reasons that make no sense.

This is the primary problem with The Kill.  From the cover, you’d expect something like a bigfoot or sasquatch is responsible for the murders, but as it turns out, it is a fossilized invisible cave man who is missing a hand…which was an extreme disappointment.  The creature’s perspective is very generic (like you are in the mind of a bear…which would have been a better killer).  It just randomly comes out of the woods and kills someone every few chapters with little build up or even worse with little consequence or reaction from the characters.

The Kill isn’t a good book and ends with an anticlimactic fire and the “death” of the creature…I guess.  It is hard to get into an invisible creature dying an invisible death.  The creature needed to be given form and substance.  It reminded me a bit of one of my favorite Johnny Quest episodes involving an invisible creature, but that episode was far more terrifying than the over three hundred pages of The Kill…just skip it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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