Camp Damascus

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Pub Date 18 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 18 Jul 2023


“A joyful, furious romp through dark places, Tingle proves he's as good at fear as he is at love.” ―T. Kingfisher, bestselling author of What Moves the Dead

From beloved internet icon Chuck Tingle, Camp Damascus is a searing and earnest horror debut about the demons the queer community face in America, the price of keeping secrets, and finding the courage to burn it all down.

Welcome to Neverton, Montana: home to a God-fearing community with a heart of gold.

Nestled high up in the mountains is Camp Damascus, the self-proclaimed “most effective” gay conversion camp in the country. Here, a life free from sin awaits. But the secret behind that success is anything but holy.

And they’ll scare you straight to hell.

“A joyful, furious romp through dark places, Tingle proves he's as good at fear as he is at love.” ―T. Kingfisher, bestselling author of What Moves the Dead

From beloved internet icon Chuck Tingle, ...

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ISBN 9781250874627
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Average rating from 28 members

Featured Reviews

The eponymous camp is as much of a nightmare as this book is a joy. It's a story of hope, as a young woman recovers from damage suffered at the hands of an extremist cult, both over the course of her lifetime and as a result of her enforced stay at the cult's outwardly "successful" conversion therapy camp.

Supernatural horror elements are handled head-on, but cleverly, and the execution of this high-concept story is straightforward and effective. As with Tingle's previous horror novella Straight, this title's content is appropriate for YA horror readers and up.

This is an excellent, wholesome, and big-hearted read about young queer people facing down their personal demons. It is absolutely terrifying, but the social horror implications are mostly dyed into the fabric of the book, highlighting the plight of one girl and her found family against very real demons.

This is much easier to find and buy now that Tingle's being published by TOR Nightfire (and that is a brilliant move for both of them). My difficulty with this title is that I'm going to give it to the people who need it, and they'll want more just like it, and Tingle hasn't published them yet.

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First, the heads up for folks coming in who are familiar with Chuck's other work: This is NOT a book I'd put in the same category as any of them. If you want more of those books, look elsewhere (Chuck produces plenty of them).

What this is is a very solid short horror book, arguably YA in tone, albeit with a lot more body horror than most YA books (we're talking people throwing up live flies in chapter 1). And, as anyone who's read the description knows, it revolves around gay conversion camps, the vile torture colonies set up by the sort of folks intent on telling you that JK Rowling is subject to a "witch hunt" (spoiler alert: She's not, and she should go away). So beware of both of those things if you can't handle them.

That said, man is this a really good story. It's unabashedly queer and also features an autistic main character (neither of which is a shock coming from Tingle), and is also unabashedly horror. We've got a lead who is having visions of things that can't be real, suspects that she's forgotten things about herself, and whose parents may be hiding something from her. Throw in a hyper-religious Christian community (with touches of Prosperity Gospel to make things even worse), and you've got a setting that's dripping in horror from the beginning, and that's before we start encountering literal demons.

I'm probably not the only person who kind of dismissed Tingle as a one-trick pony for his various "Pounded in the Butt" books, but this shows he's got the potential to be a genuinely interesting horror author. While the ultimate denouement itself is a bit predictable, the sheer violence surrounding it is impressive. Highly recommended.

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Camp Damascus: In Camp Damascus, Tingle joins the rich tradition of using the horror genre to explore real life horrors. Some of these horrors are large and systemic, like conversion therapy/conversion camps and the theocratical and religious power in the United States that allow their existence. Some of these horrors are more personal, like realizing how good intentions can be manipulated into supporting oppressive systems and recognizing and recovering from trauma. Both are used effectively throughout the novel.

The book’s driving force is Rose, the book’s narrator. She is an autistic, lesbian survivor, and each of these identities are crucial in fully understanding her actions and reactions. These identities are also interwoven throughout the novel organically and are sources of strength, not weakness, which I appreciated. I was compelled to keep reading and uncovering more alongside Rose.

One mild critique is that the ending felt a little rushed compared to the pace of the rest of the novel. However, I did still enjoy the book overall and would recommend it.

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Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle is a terrifying and haunting exploration of the demons that the queer community faces in America. Set in the small town of Neverton, Montana, the story takes readers to Camp Damascus, a gay conversion camp where a life free from sin supposedly awaits. But what goes on behind closed doors is far from holy. Tingle's searing debut sheds light on the price of keeping secrets and the courage it takes to burn it all down. Camp Damascus is a poignant and timely read that will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page.

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Thank you, Tor Publishing Group, Tor Nightfire, for allowing me to read Camp Damascus early!

Blessed be the Earth for Chuck Tingle's existence. This book is a masterpiece.

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This was so clearly written by someone with the experience of growing up queer in a religious family/town/area it SHINES off the page. the all consuming desire to behave correctly, the pain or realizing it will never be enough, the freedom of accepting that, and the need to find a community that loves you.

my one complaint is that it does feel like rose's awakening was slightly rushed

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this was really good, I really enjoyed going through this book. I've really been enjoying reading books from Chuck Tingle and he really has a great writing style and I'm amazed at how good the horror aspect was. I could see the spark of Chuck Tingle's work and glad I got to read this.

"The final spark in Martina’s awareness was her friends screaming in panic and horror, blubbering over a body that couldn’t feel and eyes that couldn’t see. I’m supposed to be fine with this because she’s in a better place now. She wasn’t a member of the congregation, but she loved Jesus above all others."

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