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THE PET. [Paperback]

CHARLES L. GRANT
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Among Grant's best May 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
The opening paragraph: A cool night in late September, a Wednesday, and clear - the moon pocked with grey shadows, and a scattering of stars too bright to be masked by the lights scattered below; the chilled breath of a faint wind that gusted now and then, carrying echoes of nightsounds born in the trees, pushing dead leaves in the gutters, rolling acorns in the eaves, snapping hands and faces with a grim promise of winter.
The second paragraph: A cool night in late September, a Wednesday, and dark.
An astute reader might pick up on the fact that the first two paragraphs in this novel have subjects but no predicates. Also, that despite the disparity in size, both of the paragraphs are single sentences.
This is not the way you are supposed to construct a novel. If you're a writer who truly understands his craft, though, you may know when to break convention; you may understand that the true purpose of writing is communication, and while communication is most often effective when following widely understood conventions, sometimes, just sometimes, the opposite is true.
Mr. Grant's love of poetry, especially that of e.e. cummings, has been documented elsewhere. That same love of poetry shines in his writing, and allows him to evoke mood as well as any other horror writer, and far better than all but the best of them. The main drawback to his writing style is that it does not work well with the clinical violence inherent in many other novels.
If you're looking for bodies stacked like cordwood behind a haunted house, look elsewhere. There are some authors who can make beautiful and frightening poetry out of violence: Joe Lansdale, David Schow, Nancy Collins, Jack Ketchum. Grant's specialty is making poetry out of dreams, or nightmares.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best ever produced in this vein. Nov. 23 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm not one for the online review, but when I saw the way this book had been misrepresented, I had to add a comment. Charles L. Grant's style of prose is poetic, and therefore not for everyone. Moreover, this book starts very slowly, building mood and establishing the setting. However, it is WELL worth the wait. Selected as one of the 100 best horror books of all time in the Jones & Newman edited _Horror : 100 best books_ (in which different professionals each selected their all time favorite, and reviewed it); nominated for a World Fantasy award for best novel... this is a entertaining, surprising novel, and one of the best by an author who has garnered more awards and nominations than Anne Rice _or_ Stephen King. No gore, no overt sexuality, but if you want that stuff written well, go read Graham Masterson or Nancy A. Collins.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The pet by Charles L. Grant March 10 2006
By Annemie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The main character in "the pet" is a severely lonely and miserable 17-year-old called Don Boyd. His parents are doing a poor job of getting over the death of his brother whom they obviously preferred over him. Their behaviour towards Don consequently alternates between extreme discipline and neglect. Both parents cheat on each other and frequently talk about divorce. He is not a super A achiever, neither in sport nor academics, which makes him the target of many cruel jokes at school. Don is placed under more pressure by the fact that his father, who is the headmaster of his school, is in disagreement with a teacher who consequently picks on Don to get back at his father. Don, who is exceptionally imaginative, deals with his problems by daydreaming about athletic stardom and, surprisingly, by making friends with the animals in the pictures in his bedroom. He becomes especially fond of the picture of a horse and tries to take strength from it to fight his numerous battles.

One day Don notices that the horse in the picture has vanished, and its disappearance coincides with the most violent period in the town's history. Two children are murdered before the serial killer himself is killed while attempting to kill Don. The violence continues when a range of others, who just happen to be the one's involved in hurting Don, are brutally crushed or trampled to death. Don realises that the horse has somehow become real and that he has, as a result, found a way of getting back at those responsible for hurting him. Now the problem is just that Don does not want everyone who deliberately or accidentally hurt him to be killed, especially not his parents, and his favourite girl and best friend who are not entirely uninterested in each other. Can Don protect those around him by controlling this power that he has willed into the world?

If you're looking for an action-packed horror novel with ghosts, vampires or werewolves chasing and killing, then "the pet" is probably not it. A lot of the book focuses on character development and relationships. The plot is built up gradually and the scarier elements only appear in the last few pages. Still, it is precisely the gradual built-up that makes it a difficult book to put down.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among Grant's best May 2 2004
By amotives - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The opening paragraph: A cool night in late September, a Wednesday, and clear - the moon pocked with grey shadows, and a scattering of stars too bright to be masked by the lights scattered below; the chilled breath of a faint wind that gusted now and then, carrying echoes of nightsounds born in the trees, pushing dead leaves in the gutters, rolling acorns in the eaves, snapping hands and faces with a grim promise of winter.
The second paragraph: A cool night in late September, a Wednesday, and dark.
An astute reader might pick up on the fact that the first two paragraphs in this novel have subjects but no predicates. Also, that despite the disparity in size, both of the paragraphs are single sentences.
This is not the way you are supposed to construct a novel. If you're a writer who truly understands his craft, though, you may know when to break convention; you may understand that the true purpose of writing is communication, and while communication is most often effective when following widely understood conventions, sometimes, just sometimes, the opposite is true.
Mr. Grant's love of poetry, especially that of e.e. cummings, has been documented elsewhere. That same love of poetry shines in his writing, and allows him to evoke mood as well as any other horror writer, and far better than all but the best of them. The main drawback to his writing style is that it does not work well with the clinical violence inherent in many other novels.
If you're looking for bodies stacked like cordwood behind a haunted house, look elsewhere. There are some authors who can make beautiful and frightening poetry out of violence: Joe Lansdale, David Schow, Nancy Collins, Jack Ketchum. Grant's specialty is making poetry out of dreams, or nightmares. There is some violence, but it's not lingered upon, merely offered in frames to add to the tension.
Ironically, this is also one of the rare horror novels which takes care to follow the most basic structure of the classic novel: that the book should be a chronicle of development, that a key change must be made in a primary character or location as a result of the activities in the book. Read the book, consider Donald Boyd and the events which unfold around him, and when you get to the end, you'll be left with a few uncomfortable questions... which is the goal of all truly 'literate' horror.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I'm proud to be (originally) from the same state as the author.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes confusing, but I like that in a horror novel Jan. 2 2005
By B. Gumm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have just finished reading The Pet, and I have to say that while some of Grant's situations in this book were rather contrived and somewhat ridiculous, the book was a smashing success in slowly and "quietly" creeping me out and keeping my attention riveted. When a book captivates me so much that I can read 100 pages in just a two-hour plane ride, the author is certainly doing something right.

This being my first book from Grant, I can't say how he develops characters in his other novels, but in The Pet, I liked the way that he selectively worked on character development, shallowly developing characters whose personalities and outlooks on life were shallow, deeply developing those who had more personal substance.

Finally, one thing I noticed immediately upon beginning this book is that Grant very quickly switches from character to character when those characters are having conversations. While this can be a bit confusing, that's OK, because I like being somewhat confused when reading a horror novel, having to think my way through what exactly seems to be going on.

All in all, I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more Grant in the future.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Ed went bad! Sept. 2 2008
By Ravenskya - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had never heard of Charles L. Grant, and I have been reading horror for a long time. I came across this book when I googled "Top 100 Horror Books" and found a list, which I printed up with the hopes that it would introduce me to new authors. I picked this book of the list and am now questioning the author of the list's credibility.

First off, this is horror decaf, no where did I read that this was a young adult novel, and with the praise from Steven King and Whitley Strieber on the cover I assumed it was a regular horror novel. Now granted the picture of the horse on the cover had me leery, but I figured "The headless horseman rode a big nasty horse, what the heck." This is 100% a youth novel, probably most enjoyed by the 12-15 year old crew, not quite ready for the jump into King territory but still interested in darker reading. The gore is minimal, the profanity is mild, and though sex is discussed... it's typical teen banter about boobs and such.

Here's the short synopsis: Don is 17 and having a rough time at life in general, his Dad is the principle at his high school so he is constantly tormented, picked on and beat up by the big stereotypical jocks. Don's Mom is an art teacher who keeps herself busy doing anything other than being at home to be a mom. Don spends most of his time sitting in his room talking to pictures and models of animals he has. Then a serial killer comes to town and Don realizes that sometimes wishes do come true... just not in the way you expected.

This story has been done before a thousand times over... it's the tale of someone acquiring a supernatural protector who's a bit too protective and slightly on the homicidal side. Graham Masterton did a better job with this story in his book "Spirit." If you have never read a horror book, or watched a horror movie then you might manage to be impressed with this tale. Unfortunately, the characters are straight high school stereotypes, the adults are almost buffoonish, actions and reactions to things are completely unnatural, and the plot has gaping holes in it.

I know that people seem to love this book, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. There is nothing new here, it was far from exciting, it wasn't scary, gory, or really even that much fun. The main character - Don, is a whiny, angst-filled teen who comes across as a bit of a temperamental moron. I mean if I knew that anyone who upset me stood the chance of being trampled to death, then I think I might keep from raging about those that I love over stupid things... like the fact that they had to go home before curfew.

The biggest problem that I had was that our big nasty protector... is a horse. Granted he's a big horse... but really, horses don't scare me. In fact I find them to be rather pretty and lovable. Now a panther I could see, or a wolf or something... but not a horse. I had a lot of trouble buying into the idea of a horse traipsing about town and trampling people... even if he is a spirit horse or whatever he was (never explained so don't hold your breath on that one).

The biggest problem with the book isn't the horse... it's that this is basically a compilation of horror cliche after horror cliche with very little real meat in between our cliche's. Every scene is something you've either seen or read before, lashed together by paper thin stereotypes serving as our characters. Even the ending is a huge letdown, no big bang, no coup-de-gras, no body strewn battle ground... it's just an easily put away and wrapped up ending like a toy in a box.

As a horror reader I like to latch onto a character and want to root for them, I want to worry about them, and I want to bite my nails when they are in trouble... there was no one in here that the reader can even remotely care about much less want to root for. Oh sure you'll find someone, Tracey perhaps, but you'll pick them by default because there really isn't anyone here for the reader to care about.

Now if you are 12 and want to read a slightly scary book with not too much gore and horses included then this should be right up your alley. If you're 30 like me, and a war hardened horror reader, buy this for your 12 year old as an intro, but don't bother reading it yourself.
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