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|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Conqueror Worms|
|Followed by||Dead Sea|
Timmy Graco and his best friends Barry Smetzler and Doug Keiser are looking forward to a summer they will never forget; they have made the perfect secret underground clubhouse in the local cemetery known as "the dugout."
The book opens with two high school seniors having sex in the cemetery. As they finish the boy realizes a figure has been watching them. The ghoul lashes out with rage, repeatedly smashes the boy's head against a tombstone until he dies; the chapter ends as he approaches the helpless girl. Another figure comes before sunrise and cleans up the mess.
Timmy's grandfather (Dane Graco) dies the next day, the first Saturday of the summer. His family buries him in the local cemetery; the same one that also houses Timmy's secret hideout and the ghoul. Timmy sees his longtime crush Katie Moore whose older sister has gone missing. While walking through the cemetery with Katie and her father, the local pastor, they find a broken sigil stone and Pastor Moore tells Timmy and Katie the legend of the ghoul that once terrorized the area. He was said to be bound by a Sigil Stone under the ruins of the old church. They all notice that the cemetery grounds are dilapidated as headstones are falling over and sinking into the ground.
Barry's father, Clark, is the caretaker of the cemetery. After the funeral, he and Barry bury Dane Graco. It is then revealed that Clark is in cahoots with the ghoul acting as his familiar. He even kidnaps a local woman as a mate for the ghoul. The ghoul believing himself to be the last of his kind is mating with this woman and the older Moore sister. At the same time, we learn that as a commandment from "Him", that the ghouls may not taste fresh meat. Anyone he kills he must let fester for several days.
The town becomes very suspicious with six missing people in less than a week and the boys' families will no longer let them play in the cemetery woods. The boys begin to notice sinkholes forming all over the graveyard. Barry's father has told him he believes there is a cave under ground responsible for all the damage to the grounds. The boys find a hole large enough to enter but do not have time to explore it just then.
The boys' local rivals see them discover the entrance and assume it is the dugout. That night they go into the graveyard under the cover of a storm and enter the cave hoping to trash the dugout. The ghoul kills two of the boys underground as the ringleader attempts to escape. Clark stumbles across him fighting his way out of the ghoul's grasp halfway in the entrance to his warren. Clark recognizes him from a scuffle between him and his own son. He steps on his hand causing him to fall into the hole where the ghoul violently kills him.
Doug spends that night at the Graco house and tells Timmy that his mother sexually abuses him on a nightly basis. Comparing his stories to the obvious physical abuse Barry receives from his father, he decides that adults are the real monsters.
Clark then bans Doug and Timmy from the graveyard and will only allow Barry to work there in daylight. He catches the kids trying to sneak into the shed where the other boys entered the cave and Clark attacks them both physically and mentally. They then take a long walk into the woods beyond the graveyard and find the remains of Katie's older sister's boyfriend in his car, squashing the rumor they ran away together.
Doug badly wants to spend the night at Timmy's house to avoid the advances of his mother. Timmy's mom will not allow him to so he goes home and locks himself in his room only to be woken up by his mother who has snuck in through the window and is attempting to molest him. At the same time, Barry's father beats him nearly to death (at this point Barry notices Dane Graco's Freemason ring on his father's hand). Timmy tells his dad he believes there is a ghoul on the loose in the cemetery and he believes that it has eaten his grandfather's corpse. His father becomes very angry, so he takes Timmy’s prized comic book collection into the basement and forces Timmy to watch him rip them apart one by one.
Doug leaves his house to go to Timmy's but sees all the lights off and decides to sleep in the dugout. Upon entering the cemetery, he sees Clark and the ghoul arguing loudly. Doug flees but his bike's kickstand rattles and the ghoul begins to chase him but Doug escapes. The ghoul goes back and attempts to kill Clark by slashing him across his neck and face with his claws. He smells Doug returning and goes to meet him at the dugout. Doug begins editing a map of the forest and eating a Kit Kat when the ghoul bursts through the bottom of the dugout and Doug falls into the grasp of the ghoul who decides to forgo the commandment not to eat fresh meat.
Barry decides to run away from home to escape the abuse of his father. He goes to say goodbye to Doug who is not home, and then goes to Timmy who tells him his suspicions of the ghoul and what his father did. The two form a plan and go to the dugout which they find collapsed into the ghoul's warren. Timmy ventures in and finds Doug's map freshly smeared with Kit-Kat and realizes the ghoul has taken him. He instructs Barry to go start the cemetery's backhoe and dig up the cave.
Barry finds his father mortally wounded, bleeding, and unconscious as a result of the Ghoul's attack, and uses a bungee cord to tie him to a stump. He retrieves the backhoe and begins digging. Timmy finds Karen Moore and the kidnapped woman bound to the walls inside the cave. He frees Karen but the other captive's mind is gone from the trauma of the Ghoul kidnapping and raping her. The ghoul appears holding Doug's head. Timmy and Karen are able to escape and run blindly through the tunnels. Above ground Clark regains consciousness and frees himself and climbs onto the backhoe. As he and Barry struggle, the backhoe collapses though the top of the cave and crushes Clark beneath it. Timmy and Karen escape through the hole made by the backhoe and the ghoul follows them out into the sunlight where he melts.
The book then goes to an epilogue twenty years later where Timmy's father is being buried in the cemetery and Barry is now the caretaker. Barry’s son has bruises consistent with abuse and Timmy realizes the ghoul was not the only monster in the cemetery.
The novel was adapted into a 2012 TV movie from Modernciné Studio and Chiller Films and aired on Chiller TV. Keene's novel was adapted by William M. Miller, the writer of Headspace and directed by Gregory Wilson, who directed the 2007 film, The Girl Next Door. Both Headspace and The Girl Next Store were also released by Modernciné. The adaptation starred Nolan Gould, Jacob Bila, and Trevor Harker, as well as Catherine Mary Stewart and Barry Corbin.