ARC Review: Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare


Quinn Maybrook just wants to make it until graduation. She might not make it to morning.

Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But 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.

This was a fun read, well fun in a pretty morbid way but if you have fun watching slasher movies then you’ll also have fun with this book. I know I did! This book plays out like a good slasher movie, and I was surprised when it had a few twists as well. This is the book I wished “There’s Someone Inside Your House” had been: a gory, scary, thrill ride that isn’t filled with unnecessary romance.

The story centers around Quinn, who has just moved with her father to the small Midwestern town of Kettle Springs, Missouri. As she starts school and starts meeting some of the local kids she notices that all is not right in Kettle Springs especially the tension between the teenagers and adults of the town. Quinn is then invited to a big party out in the middle of a cornfield and that’s when their town’s mascot, Frendo the clown, goes on a homicidal rampage. That’s the gist of it anyways!

The first part of the story (maybe around 30%?) is actually pretty slow and I found it to be a little tedious. We are mostly reading about Quinn meeting the local teens that become a central part of the story later and see that the adults loath them for their pranks and wanting to modernize the town. Once we get to the cornfield party the action starts and the pacing really picks up, I could not put it down after that! It was just a lot of campy horror fun and I was kind of pleasantly surprised by how gory and brutal it was (it’s still YA), I haven’t read anything even remotely like this and I loved every page of it. I mean the violence and the gore were so perfectly written, I could feel my adrenaline kick in and I was terrified for the characters! And holy shit is there a kill count! Cornfield? Terrifying. Clowns? Terrifying. There were actually a ton of plot twists as well that I didn’t expect whatsoever and that made it even more of a fun read.

I also, personally, really enjoyed the Midwestern US setting because a lot of the things were ridiculously relatable for me since I’m a fellow Midwesterner. Quinn is from Philadelphia so she’s not familiar with a lot of these things/customs, of course, and I actually thought she was being a bit rude and judgmental towards some some of the people especially her neighbor, Rust. Such as his manner of speaking and the clothes he wore but hey she was pretty thankful for the “redneck-ness/country boy” when he had hunting rifles in his truck when the crazy killer clown stuff started happening. Just saying. She was fine for the most part but the judging someone for what they’re wearing and the way they speak right off the bat just rubbed me the wrong way especially when Rust is just the sweetest boy.

Anyways, I digress. Overall I thought the story flowed well and it was hard to put down. I am a little thrown off with the ending though because while everything is wrapped up neatly at the end it’s still open for a sequel. Which I would be super down for!

The characters were horror trope perfection, seriously. Adam Cesare took your usual horror character stereotypes and made them fun! Quinn was your innocent, city girl who turns into a badass final girl (essentially), we have the popular/nice kid everyone wants to be around, the outcast, and even the rude jock and pretty/mean “it” girl. It goes on and on. I thought this was really fun as well because it felt sort of like “Scream” where it’s all sort of ironic intentionally.

We did get enough background and personality with each character to care about what was happening, without going too in depth with them. There were definitely quite a few characters that were meant to be simple “clown fodder”. Overall I enjoyed the characters I was “meant” to enjoy and hated the ones that needed to be hated on. I’m not spoiling anything! I will say that this book’s absolute shining star was, Rust. That sweet, adorable country boy! I love him! He is the best character and I’m willing to die on that metaphorical hill! Read the book, you’ll see what I’m talking about.


There is the TINIEST bit of romance in this book and it was pure and amazing and adorable! However, I am NOT going to spoil anything for you because it is a story spoiler. So my lips are sealed! I will say this though: it is a M/M romance. I loved it. I also really appreciated that the romance was thrown in more towards the end of the story and it does make perfect sense and didn’t try to overshadow anything else going on.

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • Fast pacing, full of action.
  • Slasher movie in perfect book form.
  • Well written.
  • Perfect horror gore, violence, and chaos.
  • Good character background and development.
  • M/M romance.
  • Romance didn’t overtake the plot.
  • Rust!
  • Midwestern setting.

What I Didn’t Love:

  • The beginning was a bit slow.
  • Quinn came off a little rude and judgmental at the start of the book.

This is YA horror at its finest honestly and if you love horror, or YA horror, or slasher movies I highly recommend checking this book out. It’s just a load of fun. If you don’t like clowns or cornfields, this is the stuff of nightmares for you so tread with caution!

Trigger Warnings: Gore, Violence, Murder, Death

**** Huge thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****

Links (Check it out on Goodreads or Order a Copy):
Goodreads / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository Amazon 

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One thought on “ARC Review: Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

  1. Pingback: Best Books of 2020

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