I read Bird Box after a friend recommended it to me. That book scared the crap out of me. One of the most suspenseful books I’ve ever read. I read it in one day and absolutely loved it. So when Black Mad Wheel came out, I snatched it up immediately. Another great one, although different from Bird Box. And here we are with Josh Malerman’s newest, Unbury Carol. Again, a great one, and again, nothing like the previous two. I really like that Malerman isn’t getting sucked into one genre. They are all in the horror idea but have enough variations between them that I feel like he’s doing a great job of uncovering his abilities.
Unbury Carol is a fairy tale meets western concept. Taking place in the 1800s (probably, it never says, but it’s before there are cars, so it’s a plausible guess), we meet Carol who has an unusual affliction. She goes into a coma and appears dead. Since this is before any kind of technology, the doctors think she is dead because her heart only beats a couple times a minute and her breath doesn’t fog up a mirror like it should. Her entire life, Carol’s mother has protected her while in the coma, or Howltown as Carol calls it, tending to her and keeping her safe. Carol’s mother died, Carol got married, and now Carol is in Howltown, her husband has decided to bury her and be done with her forever. He *knows* she’s alive, but he wants her money.
Unfortunately for him, Carol’s ex-love (also an outlaw….because this is a western, remember) hears of this plan, knows Carol is alive and is on his way to save her. The husband gets wind of this and dispatches a hitman to dispense with the ex-love. Let me tell you. This hitman, Smoke, is one of the best characters I’ve stumbled across in quite some time. He jumps right off the page. A villain to the core, but his scenes are unforgettable. Anyway, the ex-love in one the way, Carol needs to be buried quickly before she wakes up from the coma, the hitman is on the path as well, lots of things need to happen in a certain order for all this to work out in the husband’s favor.
The plot isn’t as complicated as my terrible summary makes it sound. I’m not much of a writer 😉 But I absolutely recommend this book, along with all Malerman’s other books. I’ve read enough of his work to know I will keep reading anything he publishes.