Clown in a Cornfield
by Cesare, Adam

Resolving to keep her head down through graduation when a factory closing divides the adults and kids in her small community, Quinn is caught in a dispute between tradition and progress before a homicidal corporate mascot begins targeting teens. 40,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

*Starred Review* Quinn is philosophical about moving to Missouri one month into senior year . . . until she actually arrives in Kettle Springs-a small town surrounded by cornfields, tense with simmering resentments-and finds Frendo the clown staring straight into her bedroom window. Or rather, a mural of Frendo, the town mascot, painted on the nearby, dilapidated Baypen factory. Quinn falls in with a close-knit group of friends on her first day of school, serving detention after getting caught up in a showdown with their bio teacher. The group is known for a YouTube channel where they livestream the video feed of their carefully engineered pranks and stunts. Quinn impresses mean girl Janet, who invites her to the high school party of the season at a remote, unused barn that Saturday night. At the party, Quinn has barely enjoyed a drink and a dance when a crossbow-wielding clown strides in, kicking off a chaotic murder spree full of sharp, cinematic action sequences with ample shocks and gore. Cesare avoids cliché by using smart observations from his outsider protagonist, eliciting laughter with a perfect slice of dialogue, and jolting the reader with an unusual motive. This pitch-perfect horror experience can be enjoyed as pure entertainment for its fun retro slasher style, but teen readers will also fully appreciate the sly underlying social commentary. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

A group of teens find themselves under siege by killer clowns in a tiny Midwestern town. Moving from Philadelphia to tiny Kettle Springs, Missouri, wasn't high school senior Quinn Maybrook's idea of a fresh start after her mother's death. After the town's only doctor abruptly quit, Quinn's ER doctor father, Glenn, took over his practice, a deal that included the deed to his rickety old house right next to a cornfield and the shuttered Baypen corn syrup factory, complete with a creepy mural of Frendo the clown, who also serves as the town mascot. Quinn notes the town's dated feel and the palpable tension between teens and adults, which is especially stark at Kettle Springs High. Quinn meets cool kids Cole Hill, whose father owns Baypen, and Janet Murray, who loves to stir things up. When Quinn joins them at a party in a remote cornfield, the fun turns to terror: A murderous army of Frendos armed with crossbows crashes the party. Cesare's twisty prose and believable, easy-to-root-for characters makes this blood-drenched tale of extreme societal unrest disturbingly plausible. Dark humor peppers this clever homage to retro-horror classics, and Cesare barely lets up on the gas once the bloodletting begins. Most main characters, except Janet, who is described as generically Asian, seem to be white. A pulse-pounding thrill ride for retro-horror fans who are not faint of heart (or stomach). (Horror. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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