American Ghoul is a horror novel in the tradition of Shelley and Stoker, and yet brings a sense of freshness and humor to the genre, as author Morton tells the story of a high school outsider in the late 1970s. It’s fascinating to read Morton’s account of 17-year-old Howard Pickman, and realize you feel a profound empathy for his protagonist despite the rather gruesome secret he must strive to protect. What’s also fascinating is how Morton recreates the high school experience of the late 1970s, complete with jocks, freaks, and the dark artists who came of age in the heyday of punk rock. This is a book rich in spirit, and transcends the usual exploitation of the horror genre to offer a redemptive tale of Howard and his friends Sebastian, Gerald, and Dwayne, who form a bond, and a band, while trying to stay alive in a world that doesn’t take kindly to strangers, individuals, or ghouls. But maybe it should.