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Pine Deep #1

Ghost Road Blues

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Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel

From a new master of horror comes an apocalyptic showdown between the residents of a secluded, rural town and the deadly evil that confronts them wherever they turn . . .

Evil Doesn't Die

The cozy little town of Pine Deep buried the horrors of its past a long time ago. Thirty years have gone by since the darkness descended and the Black Harvest began, a time when a serial killer sheared a bloody swath through the quiet Pennsylvania village. The evil that once coursed through Pine Deep has been replaced by cheerful tourists getting ready to enjoy the country's largest Halloween celebration in what is now called "The Spookiest Town in America."

It Just Grows Stronger

But then--a month before Halloween--it begins. Unspeakably desecrated bodies. Inexplicable insanity. And an ancient evil walking the streets, drawing in those who would fall to their own demons and seeking to shred the very soul of this rapidly fracturing community. Yes, the residents of Pine Deep have drawn together and faced a killer before. But this time, evil has many faces--and the lust and will to rule the earth. This struggle will be epic.

472 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 1, 2006

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About the author

Jonathan Maberry

466 books7,022 followers
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-seller and Audible #1 bestseller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer. He is the editor of WEIRD TALES Magazine and president of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. He is the recipient of the Inkpot Award, three Scribe Awards, and was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than thirty countries. He writes in several genres including thriller, horror, science fiction, epic fantasy, and mystery; and he writes for adults, middle grade, and young adult.

Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW Publishing that was adapted into a NETFLIX series starring Ian Somerhalder (LOST, VAMPIRE DIARIES).

His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuted in 2018 and was followed by LOST ROADS in fall 2020. ROT & RUIN is in development for film by ALCON ENTERTAINMENT and was adapted as a WEBTOON (a serialized comic formatted for cell phones), becoming their #1 horror comic.

His novels include the enormously popular Joe Ledger series from St. Martin’s Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel) and eleven other volumes, most recently RELENTLESS. His middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY (Simon & Schuster) was named one the 100 Best Books for Children 2015. His standalone novels include MARS ONE, GLIMPSE, INK, GHOSTWALKERS (based on the DEADLANDS role-playing game), X-FILES ORIGINS: DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, and THE WOLFMAN --winner of the Scribe Award for Best Movie Adaptation

His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN’S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008; as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, and its sequels, FALL OF NIGHT, DARK OF NIGHT, and STILL OF NIGHT.

His epic fantasy series, KAGEN THE DAMNED debuts in May 2022. And he just signed to co-author (with Weston Ochse) a new series of military science fiction novels that launches the SLEEPERS series. Jonathan will also be launching a new series of science fiction horror novels for the newly established Weird Tales Presents imprint of Blackstone Publishing.

He is also the editor of three THE X-FILES anthologies; the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE; SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens; and the anthologies ALIENS: BUG HUNT, NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (with George Romero), JOE LEDGER UNSTOPPABLE (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt); two volumes of mysteries: ALTERNATE SHERLOCKS and THE GAME’S AFOOT (with Michael Ventrella); and ALIENS V PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt). He is also the editor of DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, the official tribute to SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. His next anthology will be ALIENS VS PREDATOR: ULTIMATE PREY (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt), debuting in spring 2022.

Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary series, ZOMBIES: A Living History and TRUE MONSTERS. And he was participated in the commentary track for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED.

His many nonfiction works include VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (Citadel Press, 2006); THE CRYPTOPED

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 670 reviews
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews329 followers
January 30, 2022
Thirty years ago, a Black Harvest came to Pine Deep. A Blues musician killed the devil at the crossroads and ended up murdered for his troubles. His body strung up in the cornfield like a scarecrow. Or so legend tells it...... Today, Pine Deep embraces its dark history and is hailed as, "The Spookiest Town in America". As Halloween nears, the residents start to feel different. Evil is on the wind and in the heart of many who call Pine Deep Home. The devil is back to collect his due. This time he won't be denied.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,722 reviews670 followers
August 2, 2016
I am going to be the party pooper again. Many of my friends enjoyed this story but as much as I tried (and, boy, did I ever try) I could not fall into this book.

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Part of the problem was the narrator. His voice was gravelly and deep and it suited some of the characters but it grated on me. Sorry but it’s true. It’s a personal thing and I know this. You may love his manly voice but it didn’t do it for me. His female voices were nothing short of atrocious and unnatural and I am not apologizing for that.

But the other part of my problem was the story itself. I can usually get past a not-so-fantastic narrator if the story grabs me but, try as I might, I could not stay focused on this story of violence (mainly) perpetrated by awful men. Spending time in the heads of these despicable fellows was not a fun time and I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for it because I found it slow and uninteresting and I didn’t find it even a wee bit scary. I enjoyed the small town setting but the awful things going on and around there just left me kind of numb and very bored. I didn’t care for any of the characters and that is always a big problem for me so I more than likely won’t be continuing on with the series.

2 1/2 Stars
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,064 followers
May 19, 2013
The last thing Billy said was, “Oh, come on…there’s nothing out there.”
And then two sets of bone-white hands arched over the slat rails on the wagon and seized him by the shoulders and the collar and dragged him screaming into the darkness.

These, the opening lines of Ghost Road Blues, more or less set the tone for the rest of the novel. It’s a bit of a doozy, actually. Maberry juggles a number of different horror conventions here, both supernatural and natural. All of these converge on a single town: Pine Deep. Needless to say, there is a lot of bad stuff going down tonight.

Maberry appears (intentionally or otherwise) to be paying homage to quite a few writers here:
The Bone Man killed the devil with a guitar.
This is clearly a nod to Who Fears the Devil by Manly Wade Wellman.
Also, Tow-Truck Eddie is a character that could have been nabbed from the pages of any number of Dean Koontz novels. There’s more: one of Malcolm Crow’s cats is named Koko, which could be a reference to the Peter Straub novel (Koko).

Anyway, all that aside, it really is pretty good. The pacing is flawless and the scares are real. The only real downside is the fact that, being the first in a trilogy, once the final page has come and gone the story is clearly far, far from over. I’ve already ordered the next instalment (Dead Man's Song), as this is gearing up to be a total whopper of a Horror story.

Hell’s acoming, little Scarecrow. Hell’s a-coming and we all gotta learn to play the blues.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,558 reviews2,312 followers
February 3, 2023
Ghost Road Blues
By Jonathan Maberry
Maberry is always good for a horror fest with plenty of gore to go with it! It has characters that made me really hate them and others to really love them! A town that has supernatural monsters and flesh and blood monsters!
A crazed supernatural being that took over a body until a brave black blues guitar player finally killed it. Then racists killed him. Now, decades later, it's back with a new host, the racists are still around, and a vicious band of thieves crashed their car in this unlucky town. But the ghost of the blues player is back too, to help even the field a little.
Suspenseful, gory in spots, has child abuse in it, an attempted rape (she was ok), and severe racism with a beating to death. What I am trying to say is that it's not for the faint of heart or disturbed by these things. I would want to know before going into a book. The book was good but I had to keep reminding myself, " this is not real!", as I read the gruesome parts.
Profile Image for Jason Parent.
Author 45 books658 followers
April 8, 2018
Yeah, so this book really pissed me off. Why? Because I loved it, but I hate getting roped into reading a trilogy.

Given the epilogue, there is no question that this book solved absolutely none of the conflicts presented. It is the first part of a trilogy and cannot stand alone as its own book. So I am forced to purchase the others to read to gain even one iota of closure. This is a pet peeve of mine because a book's gotta be damn good for me to invest my time in its sequels.

Fortunately, this one makes the grade, and I've already bought the second installment. Maberry's gonna make three audiobook sales off me. The narrator is very good, almost comical but still enjoyable when he does the main villain's voice, and absolutely chilling as Karl Ruger and Tow Truck Eddie, and hateful as Vic Wingate. Crow and Val can be a little corny, and I hated Mike Sweeney at first, but eventually grew to love the little shite.

Anyway, the writing is superb. The only flaws would be some repetition and use of those words and phrases no one except writers use (even myself, though very sparingly), which always jar me from a scene.

I want to give this five stars, but to me it's like rating 1/3 of a book. The story could turn to absolute shit or become the greatest thing since the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or the greatest thing after that.

Anyway, despite pissing me off... five stars
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews859 followers
March 13, 2013
Three criminals arrive to Pine Deep, one of them is more sinister than the rest, a wanted Killer! Is that all the evil that lurks in Pine Deep? No!
This is a dark atmospheric supernatural thriller. I can see why Maberry was awarded the Bram Stoker award for this, he's a great writer really immerses you in the blood pulsing thrill, a real page-turner. The story plays out like an episode of Supernatural. I am hooked, line and sinker!
He's developed a really good protagonist and characters like The Bone Man, Tow-truck Eddie, and The Dark Man all written in a good prose.

"Evil don't die it just waits"

that's what the Boneman says in this story and it's more gripping thriller stuff than being a haunting or gory story. You feel we only get glimpse of a lot of his characters in this book due to it being a trilogy I am looking forward to reading Bad Moon Rising the second book of the PIne Deep series.

"Hells a coming and we all gotta learn the blues"
"Dark Hollow was as dark as a tomb and as inviting as an open, beckoning grave; yet there were worse places in Pine Deep, places where the shadows were darker still and the air hummed with a malevolent tension. But these places were never named and they were never thought about by choice. Dark Hollow, a doorway to those other places, remained as the darkest place known consciously to the people of the town, and in its Way it was dark enough."

Over here also.
Profile Image for Marie.
931 reviews232 followers
November 6, 2021
Wow! What a spooky and creepy story!

A small backstory:

The town of Pine Deep is just steeped in haunting lore of the Bone Man as something tragic happened thirty years before in Pine Deep. Now every year the town has a haunted hayride festival that commemorates the lore. Though this year something comes barreling through the small town in the way of three criminals and they are notorious for crimes they have committed in the past. Things are about to get interesting when the criminals show up as the haunting in the town slowly comes to life encompassing them all.


There are quite a few characters to keep track of in this story so I didn't go into any great detail of each one of them - it was best to give a background on the story itself instead of going into character detail. Main characters that stand out in this story are: Terry Wolfe, Malcolm Crow, Valerie Guthrie (Crow's girlfriend), Iron Mike Sweeney, Tow Truck Eddie, and Vic Wingate, plus the criminals: Ruger, Boyd, and Tony.

The story itself seems slow at first and I did notice that there is up and down ratings/reviews on this book, but though it might seem to be a slow burn the book literally takes off about the half way point and when the criminals show up the story escalates. It almost seems to have a brooding terror just below the surface of the story as you can feel that something is going to be happening but you just do not know what is coming toward you.


Normally I do not put spoiler alerts in my reviews as I like to keep readers guessing but in this case I felt it was necessary as there is a twist that happens near the end that had me read the section twice to make sure my brain was computing the information.

So here are my spoiler thoughts:

So those are my thoughts on that interesting musing and now to the rest of my review. :)

This was my first time reading this author and I am so happy that I finally stepped into his books. This is the first book in a trilogy and I am looking forward to reading the next book which is "Dead Man's Song". Giving this one five "Bone Man Boo" stars!

For more thoughts on this review, please see my blog:
Profile Image for Alanna.
1,355 reviews37 followers
February 3, 2012
Ghost Road Blues was a really bad book. It was cheesy, sexist, cliche, boring and didn't even start until it set up a sequel a few chapters from the end. You could read any one sentence and immediately know this book was written by a man, making the author much too visible throughout the story.

The women like to faint and scream, and the men like to either beat the women or be the prince charming protector (Depending on whether they're a good guy or not, and trust me, it's easy to tell--because everyone is flatly, securely and obviously one or the other).

The setting is so flat, it made me cringe. 90% of the book takes place during a thunderstorm. The rest of the time the author can't seem to decide if he is in a tourist town or a farming town. No reason it couldn't be both, yet he doesn't integrate these options and only refers to the town in terms of one or the other at a time.

The cliches, oh the cliches. "Night birds" fly around everywhere, omening evil (yup, just used omen as a verb). Every evil character has a raspy voice and dead eyes. At one point a characters falls to her knees in the mud after an emotional event, and, I kid you not, stares up into the aforementioned thunderstorm and yells, "Nooooooooo!" The grand secret that is revealed far too late in the novel actually makes the story worse and more cliche.

I could go on, but to keep it brief and distill this review's essence: There was nothing redeeming about this book.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,915 reviews3,402 followers
October 12, 2017
I should begin by saying that I like horror movies. I'm usually too scared to watch them completely (at least when I'm alone which I usually am) so I hide my face behind a pillow or something, but I like them.
And I always liked October and Halloween and Friday 13ths. This year there even is a Friday 13th in October which makes me especially happy. I can't tell you exactly why. The day isn't any more special, as an atheist I don't really believe in magic (unless we're talking about the magic of reality). But I like the atmosphere and decorating the house, reading by candle light while listening to the noises the old (wooden) house makes.

Naturally, this means that I like to read horror novels too. Sadly, not one horror book has managed to actually scare me yet, but I think it's because of the medium because it can't be the writers. Hence, every year I like to pile up some spooky books for October. This particular book was a buddy-read with Brad who introduced me to it and its author.

The story is about a small rural town in the US. There are corn fields all around, scarecrows and night birds, hardworking folks and cops who usually spend their time giving out parking tickets, life is simple (not necessarily in a bad way). The "special" thing about Pine Deep, the town in question, is the hay ride which has become famous thanks to Crow, the main character, who is a goofball par excellence and loves to scare the shit out of anyone daring to go on the hay ride. He was endearing from the get-go.
However, as these stories go, there is a very dark secret in the past of this town, and probably not the one readers of this first volume already know about. And as it was said many times in this novel: evil never dies, it just goes away for a while or sleeps; but it always comes back.
Well, it's back alright and you can imagine how it works its way into the hearts and minds of people.

The problem I had with this book was that it's all over the place. The author also seems to try to channel his inner Stephen King what with the structure of the book and the kind of characterizations of the people. But he never quite manages. He's always a few sandwiches short of a picknick.
Like the scarecrows in the fields, the storm overhead at night, and the constant mentioning of night birds for the scenery. Or the bad guys not only being wife beaters (and kid beaters) but also white supremacist so everyone will understand that they are really BAD. Or Connie being an almost stupidly sweet woman who of course likes to cook and be the perfect little wife to the son of a farmer. The evil actually being German (apparently I don't need a costume for Halloween, I just celebrate in the US and let people know I'm German, that will suffice). Overly simplistic.
The supernatural element is also ... too much at once? Maybe it'll get explained better in the other two volumes but ?!
Even the narrator has this typically grovelly voice of a "real man" (though I liked his narration).

Nevertheless, like with many horror movies that could be categorized as mediocre, I still liked this story. Crow was an endearing goofball, like I said and he and Val were wonderful together. In fact, I'd make a case for the author changing or deliberately not going with his MO of overly simplistic characterization for Crow as he might have been the utter good guy but he has a semi-dark past what with his alcoholism and stuff. I didn't care much for anyone else, but I ended up caring for him and Val. And the action was solid. There was a lot happening all over town, many different characters that can only become more important in the future and a lot of forshadowing (have I mentioned that it read like a not-as-good copy of a Stephen King book?), but the pace was fast nevertheless. A bit too much exposition sometimes, maybe.

I was torn between giving this 3 or 4 stars but considering that I had indeed fun and will continue with the series, I'll be generous.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
October 12, 2017
I managed my expectations pretty well for reading this one. I wanted regular horror and got it. It's October, after all, and isn't this the season to enjoy a run of scary?

Or is it simply the desire to see evil as plain as day, to root for the underdogs, to gather up all the misfits and see all the jerks and the ultraviolent assholes of the world get their comeuppance?

Maybe a bit of both.

Fortunately, there's a lot of bigger-than-life characters in this small town and the good guys are good pretty much all the way through. The bad, however, are really bad. :) And did I mention a recurring string of gruesome murders in a small town known for it's spectacular Halloween festivals meant to scare your pants off?

Yeah, well, aside from a few great scenes and pretty epic buildup, I'm gonna have to hold my horses to see the grand explosion because this is a trilogy!

That's fine, of course. Sometimes a tale is very long. I just have to wonder what it might have been like to have this as one gigantic tome like the good old days of epic horrors instead of the bite-sizes publishers think we want. *shrug*

So maybe I'll just pretend it's one book. That's the ticket! And people think that readers are without imagination! I'll show them!
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,547 reviews32 followers
June 15, 2022
At first I didn't think this would keep my interest to the end as i am not much of a horror fan but it surprised me. Nice buildup to the plot and just enough action to keep the story moving forward. I look forward to seeing how the writer ramps up the plot in book 2. Very recommended
October 18, 2011
Ghost Road Blues was a great book to read during the month of October, as part of my 4th Annual October Scare fest. I love that spooky mood that comes along with the fall, when the days get shorter, the nights longer, and the weather cooler (hopefully).

Although this novel was very good, and well-written, I have to put in in the 'liked fairly well' as opposed to 'loved or really liked' category.

Let's talk about the stuff that didn't quite work for me:
*I think that this story depends a bit too much on the human evil quotient for my tastes. That doesn't make it bad at all. However, I like supernatural horror, and inhuman monsters. I know all about the evil that men are capable of. Just turn on the news or check Yahoo's home page, and you will get your fill of that. For this reader, when I pick up a fiction novel in the horror category, I want to see some nasty, unreal, supernatural baddies who scare the heck out of me, but hopefully get thoroughly vanquished by the good guys. Yeah, whatever, the cynics will revile me for my hopelessly optimistic nature. That's okay. Life sucks. We all know that. But hope is what keeps us going. Hope makes the heart keep beating. Reading about horrible people and their horrible acts on others doesn't do it for me. In this case, Maberry takes the supernatural and wraps it around a whole lot of human darkness. He does it well, I can't deny. And he doesn't make this book overflowing with gore and gratuitous violence, which is a plus. However, reading about
*I had some trouble tying all the pieces of the puzzle together. I felt like the secondary characters were more like chess pieces waiting to be moved around in the following books. I'm not sure I liked that feeling. I still don't understand the roles that everyone is playing here. I know it's working out to be epic, but I don't know if I like all these unanswered questions.

Now the good:
*Something about small town life--the reading of it, not the living in it--that gets me every time. Fans of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot will likely enjoy the view of small town life on offer in this book. Maberry's approach to characterization does bring to mind Stephen King, but it's not a copy cat. It's more of a feeling that Mr. King was an influence for Mr. Maberry. He does enough of his own thing that it feels like Maberry's work, not a King Redux. That whole fishbowl effect, where the darker natures and acts of the town's inhabitants line the bowl like the scum that builds up over time, is very evident in this novel. The vagaries of the various folk in and around Pine Deep lay important groundwork to the story, although again I could have gotten more depth here. I did feel like I could drive down A-32 and spent a couple of hours in Pine Deep.
*Atmosphere in shades. Maberry writes description beautifully. He captures the ambience of living in the rural part of Pennsylvania, with forest, swamp, river, stream, fields ripe with crops, and mountains all around. He must have traveled to this area, because this book shows a tangible familiarity with this region.
*I admired Crow, Val, and Mike as main characters. I loved the Bone Man, and cried out because of the injustice he experienced. Terry seems like a lit fuse ready to set off a powder keg. He's sympathetic, but makes me worry for the future. I liked how Maberry built up Crow's character, giving him a well-rounded feel in his love of the macabre, blues music, his car, and his love for Val and his friends, not to mention his fundamentally good heart. I liked seeing both his strengths and weaknesses. He's a really good unlikely hero.
*The ghost aspect was great. I liked this a lot more than the crazy evil humans. I sort of wish this was played up a bit more.
*The evil folks/things are very evil. The menace isn't always clear-cut, but it's very apparent. That's definitely a plus in this novel.

Wrapping Things Up:
This is my first read by Jonathan Maberry. He's a good writer and I think he has some stories to tell. This one is an interesting story, although maybe not what I expected or wanted. It was a worthwhile read, and definitely a good one for reading in October. I have the next two books, and I will read them since I want to see what happens next (a good thing as Neil Gaiman has said). I'd also like to read other books by this author.

I'd recommend this if you don't mind reading about loathesome human beings and like the small time vibe.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.
Profile Image for Lizz.
219 reviews53 followers
January 2, 2021
I don’t write reviews.

This is another title I probably wouldn’t have purchased, but it was included in the Audible membership. I didn’t know anything about it except that I had read a few of Maberry’s short fiction in horror anthologies. And I definitely didn’t know that it was the first in a trilogy. After reading I’m very happy to know there are two more books.

This immediately reminded me of Cold Moon Over Babylon. Something about the way my mind created the world linked the two. Maberry fleshed out lovable protagonists and antagonists I loved to hate. Of course he included an underdog to beat all underdogs. This story is an example of the journey being more important than the destination.

Tom Weiner did an excellent job with the narration.
Profile Image for Kasia.
398 reviews277 followers
May 2, 2010
When I first picked this book up I had no clue that I was up for a sweet week or saucy reading full of believable characters, little town secrets and dark nasty things slithering in the dark. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it also had some maniacs on the loose whose souls were blacker than that of the devil buried in the muddy pit and locals who grew up torturing each other under pretense of being holy. After sixty pages Jonathan Maberry became my new favorite author amongst masters of terror who grace my shelves and forever wedged himself into my memory. The things this man wrote were really good, he got into the minds of the bad characters the same way he worked the good souls, and the bad ones were truly evil, not afraid of death but like rock stars they were empowered by the rush walking the thin line between earth and the grave gave them.

The weeks leading to Halloween in Pine Deep were supposed to be filled with crisp weather, rich harvest of the golden fields and scary fun that was the main attraction for the tourists. Instead the crops went bad and terrors from the past came back to haunt our main characters; Malcolm Crow, Val Guthire and Terry Wolfe. Thirsty years ago they barely escaped with their lives, chased by a monstrous farmer, Ubel Griswold who seemed to be the devil himself covered in human flesh. He was stopped but even death didn't seem to hold him back because in present time their nightmares are coming back and his name is on the lips of three mad men who come crashing through the town. This time our friends are against something more than a mortal enemy but an entity whose powers are from another time and world and who will make sure that the whole town ceases to exist after Halloween. He will use his cronies, some who pretend to be friendly and wholesome and some who were freshly picked from the ground to do his bidding in the most gruesome way imaginable.

This is the first tale in the trilogy that has all ready enchanted me. Presently I am half way done reading the next book in the series and I can barely sit without jumping, this stuff gets very exciting. Maberry does a fantastic job creating characters that I care for and sadly, well excitingly I guess for me an even better job of destroying them one at a time. Luckily they are tough cookies and half the fun is reading how they fight evil, sometimes it takes one on one combat and other times it takes more of a mystical approach. "Ghost road blues" was so much more than pages filled with words, it was a tornado that sucks all my attention away and left me disheveled and hungry for more.

Great read and perfect for this time of year, happy Halloween!
Profile Image for Bill.
928 reviews301 followers
November 13, 2012
This is the first Jonathan Maberry novel I've read, and judging from the ratings of his later novels, he gets better as he goes.
That's a really good thing, because Ghost Road Blues was pretty good.
In fact, through most of this novel, I was very jacked about this guy.

I had been looking over my to-read list in the hopes of finding something to satisfy my October horror cravings. Not only did it deliver, but it was also set around Halloween. Perfect!

For most of this novel, Maberry drives forth with a perfect balance of descriptive prose and action/dialogue. This made the story move along at a nice clip. And it genuinely creeped me out in parts. That's a tough accomplishment with a 50 year-old reader who has 'seen it all'.

The only thing that stops me from giving this five stars is a couple of issues I had: Firstly, I found the dialogue between Crow and Iron Mike to be a bit corny. Come to think of it, the corniness also spread to Crow and his girlfriend, Val, towards the end of the book.
Another thing was an editing gaffe.
This isn't a spoiler:
In one chapter, Val leaves her father, and then a couple of chapters later, she leaves her father again...huh?

All very minor quibbles. I'm very much looking forward to reading Maberry again, and the next time will be with the second in this series. It looks like I haven't read the best of him yet, so that's something to be excited about.

Profile Image for Gianfranco Mancini.
2,197 reviews755 followers
November 2, 2017

Vote: 3,5

Lots of things in this first book of the Pine Deep trilogy... maybe too many.
Reading this novel was like takin'Terry's Haunted Hayride for which Pine Deep town is famous for: an hell of a ride, a well written storyline and some nice (but stereotyped) characters, but in the end it was just a 500+ pages prologue to the main story, leaving the reader without a real ending and with lots of questions .
A more than decent october reading, but it was like reading something King or Koontz wrote in their starts and forgot it buried into a drawer.
Not sure starting book two soon. :/
Profile Image for Lena.
1,144 reviews239 followers
January 25, 2018
So that was a five hundred page beginning to a greater story that I will not be reading because I am NEVER impressed by a three hundred page book wrapped in five hundred pages.

This was 95% domestic/general violence and suspense with 5% supernatural Boo! That five percent is a promise that if you read the next eleven hundred pages there will be more good Boo!

I'm going to pass.

*Update* If you as well were disappointed in this book I would highly recommend Gilchrist: A Novel instead.
My review of Gilchrist: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books337 followers
June 8, 2013
This book was kind of like Diet Stephen King: no calories, half the flavor. Jonathan Maberry apparently scripts comic books too, and that was apparent in the melodramatic prose and the prolonged fight scenes in Ghost Road Blues.

Thirty years ago, the small town of Pine Deep was victimized by a serial killer in what became known as the Black Harvest. A bunch of redneck cops killed the man they believed responsible, an itinerant black guitar-player known only as "the Bone Man," but in fact the Bone Man had already killed the real killer. Except he didn't because the real killer is a supernatural something-or-other who, of course, returns. As does the Bone Man, to give occasional dream-like warnings to the protagonists. Hello Magical Negro.

Now, Pine Deep is famous nationwide for its elaborate haunted hay rides, which basically turn the whole town into a horror amusement park every fall. A couple of survivors of the Black Harvest are still alive, but most of the town has forgotten or would like to forget about the origin of its highly profitable "scary" reputation.

So, besides the repetitious and melodramatic prose, the characters were flat archetypes. Malcolm Crow, a recovered alcoholic, is an ex-cop who runs a comic book store and has a black belt in jujutsu, and if the triumph-of-the-nerds point is missed, he befriends a fourteen-year-old boy who fantasizes about being a superhero while getting beaten at home by his stepdad. The main characters are likeable if cliche, but the villains, well, they're all not only evil, but Eeeeeeeevil! First we have a trio of thugs running from a drug deal gone bad; the alpha-thug is a hyper-violent psychopath who spends much of the book dwelling on just how violently and evilly he's going to hurt people. There is the crazy tow truck driver who hears voices in his head and who turns into a cannibalistic serial killer without a qualm. And there is that evil stepdad who also turns out to be a minion of the Big Bad, but just in case being the willing servant of a demonic serial killer and beating his wife and stepson black and blue on a regular basis doesn't make him evil enough, Maberry underlines how really, really evil he is by offhandedly having him also publish a white supremacist newsletter. You know, so we won't miss that he's really, really evil.

So here's what really torqued me about this book: it's the first in a trilogy and it was obviously written with the next two books in mind, meaning, there isn't even an attempt to make it self-contained. We're given hints of the supernatural Unspeakably Bad Thing that's about to happen all through the book, but the entire novel is just a build-up. The author is putting the pieces in place for the real shit to go down in the next volume. We meet the villains and the heroes, there is some intestine-chewing, and a few minor characters get kacked to jerk some tears, but oh boy, things are really gonna hit the fan in the next book! Umm, no thanks.

It's not bad, if you like completely mainstream horror novels, but Maberry really does seem to be trying too hard to be Stephen King. While he's certainly a more economical writer and he gets to the point waaaay faster than Evil Stevie does, his characters have none of the dimensionality and gruesomely interesting detail that even King's villains possess, and Ghost Road Blues uses violent evil goons and a few maggoty gross-outs like a hammer. A defter horror writer (like King — yes I'm a fan, for all his flaws) can convey spine-chilling dread with everyday objects or a half-remembered phrase from childhood. Maberry tries to do it by repeating ghoulish incantations over and over and over in the characters' heads.

Ultimately, there just wasn't anything original here and definitely nothing scary, so I don't care enough about what happens to read the next book.
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews138 followers
November 3, 2014
3.5. I'm ambivalent about the rest of the trilogy. This was like something Stephen King would have written before stashing it in a drawer so he could write something better. I enjoyed it but the Stoker win surprises me.
Profile Image for Kimberley Meier.
15 reviews6 followers
April 6, 2013
I recently came across an author I really like, Jonathan Maberry. The first book I read was Patient Zero (review & giveaway coming soon) and I was hooked. I decided to read his Pine Deep trilogy. The first book, Ghost Road Blues, introduces you to Pine Deep, Pennsylvania, which is known as "The Spookiest Town in America." Pine Deep seems like a quaint , tourist town which thrives on the Halloween season, but it has a dark, evil history.

Jonathan Maberry uses a vibrant cast of characters and amazing description to draw you into the secrets of Pine Deep and it's residents. Action packed and just enough gore makes Ghost Road Blues a page turner that will be impossible to put down. Here's the excerpt from the back cover of the book:

Evil Doesn't Die
Pine Deep buried the horrors of its past a long time ago.
Thirty years have passed since a serial killer sheared a bloody
swath through the quiet Pennsylvania village. Now residents
and tourists enjoy the country's largest Halloween celebration
in what is cheerfully called "The Spookiest Town in America".

It Grows Stronger
But a month before Halloween it begins again. Unspeakably desecrated
bodies. Inexplicable insanity. And an ancient evil walking the streets,
seeking to shred the very soul of this vulnerable community. Yes, the
people of Pine Deep have faced a killer before. But this time, evil has
many faces- and the lust and will to rule. This struggle will be epic.

And epic it was This series kept me guessing all the way to the end. Ghost Road Blues definitely deserved to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel!
Profile Image for Erth.
3,496 reviews
December 1, 2021
Right from the beginning I noticed that the editing is the worst that I've ever encountered in a novel. There are verb tenses that are incorrect and even places that don't make sense like when they are using a digital camera and the author says they used it until the shutter wouldn't work because the film ran out. When the author tries to make a dramatic point he goes on and on to the point where I say to myself "OK, already, I got it." The story itself is so far OK. It is a supernatural thriller set in a small town. His character development is good but some of the towns people characters get away with things that would not be tolerated in the real world such as Vic's extreme domestic violence that everyone knows about.
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,258 reviews62 followers
September 23, 2022
Every horror writer in the last 25 years more or less has been compared to Stephen King. He is the bench mark that publishers and reviewers like to use as a reference, and it has become so overused as to border on the point of being ludicrous. So I hate to do it myself but in the case of Jonathan Maberry and the first novel in his “Pine Deep Trilogy”, Ghost Road Blues I believe a valid argument can be made that he is the spirit child of Mr. King.

It is not that his writing style is so very similar, but reading the themes of this novel brought me back to Kings early writing, when he was hungry and his stories hinted at the terrible daemons the man was struggling with. Now I don’t want to belittle Mr. Mayberry’s writing because I am in no way accusing him of being some little “King Clone” as many writes are. His story of evil arriving at the town of Pine Deep is interesting and original; it’s just that while reading I saw hints of King’s influence on the man.

I read in an article by Larry Atkins on-line on Philadelphia Weekly (www.philadelphiaweekly.com/arts-and-c...), that Mr. Maberry does not necessarily like the comparisons. He said people compare his work because,

“…my first three novels were supernatural vampire stories set in small town America. So was [Stephen Kings] Salem’s Lot”

Well I hate to disappoint Mr. Maberry, but the novels that came to my mind after reading Ghost Road Blues were two other equally iconic King novels The Shining and The Stand. I must confess that until I read that interview, I had no idea I had even read a vampire novel. I’m guessing there will be more blood sucking in the future novels in the series.

Mr. Mayberry’s thematic use of the idea that evil done in a location can leave residue of that evil to linger and that if enough evil has been done a place it will become evil, is a theme Mr. King has used in several novels; specifically in The Shining and in his sequel Doctor Sleep with Danny’s ability to see the suicide in the tub and the child’s death at the Overlook play house. This theme was used again in Pet Sematary where the ground at the old Micmac burial ground was said to be “sour.” In that same vein, the idea that evil never dies, it just waits and grows stronger, is pretty much the basis of all Mr. Kings novels, specifically the character of “Randall Flagg” found in The Stand, The entire “Dark Towers” series, and In The Eyes of The Dragon. Now Stephen King does not have a copyright on these themes but he does them so well. And so does Mr. Maberry. Ghost Road Blues uses these themes to great effect, and builds the tension up throughout the novel by introducing character upon character that will be of great importance for good or evil in later novels.

And this would be my only negative about Ghost Road Blues. It did not feel like a stand-alone novel to me, but instead part one of a larger work. We are introduced to many characters whose value is not yet known. This unknown quantity is both a blessing and a curse. The reader knows they are important, but it is not always clear on the characters motivation, are they good or evil? This is not true with all the characters, but I’m thinking specifically of two characters, The Mayor, Terry Wolfe, and “Iron” Mike Sweeney. Because of this ambiguity, these two characters hold the most interest to me. Especially the mayor, who seems to be a man on the edge of snapping. When he does, will the shattered pieces fall to the light or the dark? I must admit I am anxious to find out.

Jonathan Maberry has a deft hand when it comes to the violence in the novel. And there is violence throughout this work; Violence so brutally written as to make a reader question whether it is wise to finish reading. I don’t know about everyone else but I am a visual reader. I see what I am reading in my mind, like my own personal movie. (I know I am not the only one, right Thom), and although the violence is intense, especially the scene where Mike Sweeney gets beaten, I never felt like I was reading “slasher porn,” violence just for violence sake.

In the end whether he likes it or not, Jonathan Maberry reminds me of “Young” Stephen King. That being said for better or worse, His writing was excellent and I very much enjoyed reading Ghost Road Blues.

2022 Update: This was just as god as a reread. On to the 2nd book in the series.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,811 followers
May 15, 2013
I started this book and some of my friends like it. When I was asked early on how I liked it I said it was okay so far but not great. When I said this other readers chimed in and said, "I loved this book, couldn't put down the series".

Well I can...sorry folks. If you like this I'm as always happy you found a book or books you like. For me this hit several of my hot buttons for dislike and finally pushed me completely away.

First this is for the majority of the book more a crime story with supernatural window dressing than it is a purely supernatural horror story. Also we spend a great deal of time inside the minds...that's plural "minds" of sadistic, homicidal, delusional, maniacs. I know that in many books that's a popular story telling device now, but I don't like it. It causes me to skip over whole sections of some books (I think I may have missed half of some of "Jack Daniels" books). Still it wasn't that which drove me to jump sections here. We also used the . Even that is not what pushed me to jumping forward. It was the scenes of Mike (14 year old Mike)being beaten...brutally beaten. I don't think that's a spoiler as it doesn't tell you anything you won't find out early on and it goes on and on and on....and on. The scene when the step dad hit Mike with his fist for the first time and then carried on with the beating is a long and lovingly detailed one.

Frankly I hate it and don't plan to follow this series. (At least not till I heal a bit from this one.)

Why does it get 2 stars instead of one? Because the writer did make me hate Vic the step dad...and frankly (that word again) I had no use for "mom" as she got drunk while her son was beaten into a pulp.

The story does go on and set up it's supernatural story and I am sure what really pushed my buttons won't others. The story ties up but leaves questions which will apparently be dealt with later.

But not by me. I don't care enough to follow this one up. If I ever do it will be because there are moments that are pretty good. For the moment I don't want anymore of the emotional abuse and cruelty that is so much a part of this story.

Enjoy if it's for you.
Profile Image for Richard K. Wilson.
438 reviews104 followers
November 30, 2020
This book is to the Horror genre, what 'Boys Life' and 'To Kill A Mockingbird' are to the Literature genres!! This is a beautiful, and classic Horror novel! Maberry's BEST book (and series) ever!
Don't pass this one up! Read it!

Welcome to Pine Deep; "The Spookiest Town In America" and "Home to the biggest and most terrifying Haunted Hayride ever!!" Yes, Pine Deep is a haunted and tormented town....and once you go there you will never leave.

With this being the first book in a trilogy, I originally read it when it first came out, and that was back in 2006, and it had just been awarded the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel....and it deserved it! The town of Pine Deep, Pennsylvania is where thirty years ago, The Bone Man killed the Devil at the town's crossroads.....but then he lost, and was strung up as a Scarecrow in the middle of a huge cornfield....only the Bone Man is out for his revenge, and he has come back to Pine Deep. That was the year of the Black Harvest; when all the fruits and crops of Pine Deep rotted and died on their vines. Yes, that was 30 years ago, and now the town celebrates every year by hosting the biggest Haunted Hayride in the U.S. and this year....blood will be poured! For this year, 3 psychopathic killers have come to hide out in Pine Deep and to get what is theirs, and the towns people have no idea of what is about to occur in their small and 'Spooky little town!'.

Ghost Road Blues opens with the local high school football jock and his girlfriend along with a trailer load of their friends enjoying a scary weekend night, along the trail at the hayride. Then, the sounds of a killer and screams of bloody terror erupt as they all witness one of their finest being yanked and dragged to his death right in front of their eyes!! This begins the story of Ghost Road Blues, and yes, though this does not end at the end of this book.....you are only just beginning to understand what pure darkness, and evil and the means of horror really are.

The writing of these characters is intense, it is beautiful and horrifying all at the same time. You will be able to feel the fall winds, and hear the rustle of the maple leaves as you hear the eerieness of the soul stirrings sounds of a string guitar, as it plays deaths song. Welcome to Pine Deep.

Since this is the beginning of a trilogy, it only gets a 👻🎃🔪🧟‍♀️ Haunts Rating.
Profile Image for Alondra Miller.
976 reviews55 followers
January 28, 2014
5 Stars!!

Well, wwell, well... murder in a small town. Kinda cliche' isn't it? I mean everyone writes about it, and it gives a good story. I think Mr. Maberry writing it, makes it a great story. A nice twist on small town murder and mayhem. It is about the darkness. The evil that resides there. The devil down the street that everyone pretends is not there. People willing to live in a cocoon and pretend everything is all right. We will cover it up, ignore it and .... it will go away? No, no; evil never dies, it only fades, then simmers until it is well-done. It comes back.

This little town reminds me of Stephen Kings Derry, Maine. So much death and blood on one little towns hands, and all the fixins' for a fantastic story. No one has captured this for me as a reader until Jonathan Maberry, and I love it. I am so ready for the next installment.. who's with me?

**After careful reconsideration and after missing this epic story; i gave this book 5 stars. Damn, I miss you Pine Deep. *cries*
Profile Image for Gatorman.
577 reviews64 followers
November 2, 2011
I really enjoyed this book, my first by Maberry. It was very well written with terrific charecters and a creepy plot that holds you to the end and makes you want to pick the next one up right away. The main bad guy, Karl Ruger, is very nasty and very funny at the same time. Looking forward to reading more about him in the next books. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews286 followers
March 4, 2017
First and foremost, a warning.

This book does not have an ending. Not really. I mean, it's not a cliffhanger, per se, but it's not a self contained story, either. This is one of those trilogies which is really just one story broken into three parts. If you read this book, and you want actual closure/cconclusion, you will have to read the entire trilogy.

This pisses me off.

I was, at one point in the book, considering bumping this up to 3 stars, but that was entirely contingent on the ending. It looked like it was going to be a whopper of a conclusion - that all the disparate parts and points of view would come together, after the slow, slow set-up, into one hell of a final battle.

But, as I said, there is no final battle... so the ending felt like it sort of limped to the finish, to set up the next book. And I've read reviews of the next book and it sounds like there isn't much forward momentum to that book, either... so it seems to me - albeit judged solely on reading this book and reviews - that it could've been one long book with a lot cut out, or, maybe, a duology at most, and that a lot of it sort of feels like filler.

So -

I honestly don't know that I'll continue. It was a decent enough read, and interesting in its own way - but I never latched on to any of the characters, or felt enough menace from the story, to really feel invested in continuing what seems might be a slow slog to the actual ending of the story, at the tail end of the last book.

Maberry clearly channels King in some ways - in the shifting points of view, and even the way chapters are broken into sub-parts - but he lacks King's turn of phrase and also King's ability to make the character seem real and relatable. I mean, you can see glimmerings of it, but it's not quite there.

Also, I felt jarred by certain parts which were just told badly. Inconsistently plotted, I guess. Things I felt should've been caught in editing, at least.

Such as at the end of one chapter, we're told a character is running towards a house, and then it cuts to different PoVs. When we get back to this character, she is not running towards the house, but instead leaning over a character in the field, and she goes through a bunch of stuff before she then ends up going back to the house. Again.

This sort of thing happens several times, but this was the most egregious example that I can recall. It was just really jarring.

Anyway -

It's not a terrible story, but I feel like it could be a lot tighter, and I'm still pissed off that it's not a stand alone story. I hate starting a trilogy/series only to sort of feel "suckered" into continuing with the whole thing to get any kind of actual ending. I like to read the first book and have it stand on its own merits and then decide, from there, whether to continue or not.

Profile Image for Bernard Ingram.
26 reviews4 followers
October 15, 2016
A homocidal psychopath, a religious lunatic who thinks he's Jesus, and a mechanic who beats up kids. These are the instruments an evil entity uses to turn a little backwater town on its head.

Maberry writes with pace and the chapters are short enough to keep you turning pages. The characters are well developed and the action is suspenseful. The question is whether this first instalment of a three book series does enough to get the reader to read the second book.

Well, I'm not exactly rushing to the bookstore to get the entire collection in the Pine Deep series. I will probably read the second book at some point in time, but I might also just forget to.

For me the characters are simply not interesting enough, although they are developed. I think Maberry's mistake is that he polarises his characters into the dichotomy of good or evil. The bad guys are bad to the bone with no redeeming qualities, while the good guys are so likeable it bores you to death. In a sense it makes them less real, and for me it was hard to relate.

There is also one huge flaw. One of the scenes, where a minor character is murdered, is described twice: once from the victim's view and a few chapters later from the killer's view. The second time you have to go over the scene is a bit tedious, mainly because the only reason is to show you how the killer thinks. In my opinion the same could've been achieved if Maberry did any other victim from that point of view. I skimmed through the chapter, and I think I could've skipped it completely and missed nothing.

This does not mean that Ghost Road Blues is unreadable. This novel has a lot of suspense, snappy and clever dialogue, concise but vivid description, and a distinct horror element.

I enjoyed reading it.

But at the same time it's also pretty forgettable, like a TV series you might follow because nothing else is on during that time slot. Therefore I'm neither recommending it nor giving it a thumbs down.

Read it and make up your own mind.
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,988 reviews195 followers
July 8, 2010
I was instantly addicted from the first chapter when the character called “The Bone Man” kills his demon, using his blues guitar. epic good vs. evil battles;Thirty years earlier the small town of Pine Deep is tortured with murders. When “The Bone Man” is blamed, after killing the murder, he is himself the victim of vigilantly justice. The evil deed will not go unpunished thirty years into the future the horror starts again. It is a visually written dream, that is done perfectly It is not overly descriptive, but leaves vivid images. I loved this novel, and can't wait to read the two sequels. This is true horror written at it's best.2006 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel
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