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Goblin

Title: Goblin

Author: Josh Malerman

Genre: horror

Thank you Netgalley for this book!

I love Josh Malerman. I’ve read everything I can get my hands on: Bird Box, Malorie, Inspection, Unbury Carol, A House at the Bottom of the Lake, and Black Mad Wheel. So when I was approved for this one, I was so excited. He’s an author who I read, no matter what. I had no idea what this book was about, didn’t care, didn’t matter. Just was going to read it anyway because it was his. This book is a really fun, twisty one. Six stories are set in the town of Goblin, and all intertwine a bit in plot, characters, etc.

From Goodreads: A MAN IN SLICES: A young man wants to prove to his long-distance girlfriend that they have “legendary love,” better than Vincent van Gogh, so he sends her more body parts than just his ear in the mail.

KAMP: A man so horrified of encountering a ghost that he sets up a series of “ghost traps” all over his apartment, desperate to catch one before it can sneak up on him.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUNTER! Big game hunter Neal Nash leaves his own meat-themed birthday bash to go hunting for Goblin’s hallowed (and protected) Great Owl. But the North Woods are unkind at night.

PRESTO: In the pages of Presto magazine, a young boy reads that his favorite magician, Roman Emperor, is coming to town. Problem is, Pete doesn’t know that Emperor’s magic is real, and his latest trick involves audience participation… a little boy volunteer.

A MIX-UP AT THE ZOO: Dirk Rogers works at both the Goblin Slaughterhouse and the Goblin Zoo, but the workload is really getting to him. Will he be able to separate the two jobs on the night he finally breaks down, or will the slaughterhouse and the zoo overlap in his cracked, dark mind?

THE HEDGES: A young girl finally reaches the end of Goblin’s biggest tourist attraction, The Hedges. But what she finds there sparks a mad chase between the owner of the Hedges and the Goblin Police, through the streets of the rainy city and into the terrible North Woods.

Wow! These stories are just so creepy. All are interesting, full of rich characters, and will leave you with chills. I’m usually not a novella/short story reader, but these were great, and I enjoyed them all. Malerman has knocked another one out of the park for me.

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Malorie

Note: this review contains spoilers for Bird Box.

Back when I first read Bird Box, I was blown away. It immediately became one of my top 10 favorites, and I recommend it to everyone. It’s a masterclass in suspense writing. From page one, you’re on the edge of your seat. The attic scene alone is one I will never forget. My kids ask me about the books I read a lot. The scariest I’ve ever read is The Shining followed by Let the Right One In, but Bird Box is the creepiest, most tense book I’ve ever read. They are clambering to read these, but being elementary age, it won’t happen anytime soon.

Malorie picks up a couple years after Bird Box. Malorie and the kids are still living in the school for the blind, but an infiltration from the creatures has forced them to flee. Thankfully, the book then jumps ten years and Malorie and the kids, Tom and Olympia, are living alone in an abandoned summer camp. The kids are now teens and have developed their own personalities. Tom is creative, an inventor, but hates Malorie’s rules and is seeking adventure and answers. Olympia is the peacemaker, thoughtful, and had read the thousand book in the camp. Malorie lives by the fold. She doesn’t trust anyone. Due to what she saw in the school for the blind, she believes the creatures can infect you also by touching you, so she demands that, even in the summer, the kids wear long pants and hoodies to protect as much of their skin as possible.

A man claiming to be with the census delivers papers to their camp. On the list are survivors and their whereabouts. Malorie sees some familiar names on the list which throws her strict life into chaos. The rest of the story unfolds from there.

Avoiding spoilers, many important events from Bird Box are incorporated in this book. If you haven’t read it in awhile, I highly recommend rereading it so you realize the full impact of those events on Malorie’s life today. I never expected this book would be as good as Bird Box, and it’s not, but it is excellent and a must-read. Malerman’s best work is in Malorie’s world. I’ve read all his other stuff Inspection, A House at the Bottom of the Lake, Unbury Carol, and Black Mad Wheel, but Malorie is better than all of them. If he does write a third book in this world, we will all be lucky.

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Inspection

I am a huge fan of Josh Malerman’s work. I’ve read everything of his that I can get my hands on including Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel, Unbury Carol, and A House at the Bottom of the Lake and can’t wait to see what he has in store for us with the Bird Box sequel, coming out this fall (last I heard). He’s one of those authors that when I hear he has a book coming out, I make reading it a priority. Bird Box is still my favorite, but Inspection is his best since.

J is an Alphabet Boy. Raised in a turret with 25 other boys (one for each letter of the alphabet), he only knows his small world comprised of only men. The boys, their instructors, and their father figure, D.A.D., live together in a tower. D.A.D. is convinced that the opposite sex causes boys to neglect their studies, which in turn, makes them less productive members of society. So, he creates an experiment to eliminate that distraction. Women don’t exist in the boys’ world. They are told they were born from trees, are educated in traditional subjects, and show tremendous abilities.

However, not everyone is on board with this idea. D.A.D hired a man to write propaganda for the boys in the form of children’s novels, but this man knows what D.A.D. is doing is wrong and creates his own book, hands it out to the boys, and some read it, learning of women for the first time. Once that happens, they are deemed “spoiled rotten” and sent to THE CORNER, which is the scariest place for them. Every day these boys go through an “inspection” to check their bodies and minds for outside influence. They play an honesty game called Boats complete with nodes they place on themselves.

Halfway through the book, there is a giant reveal. I’m sad to say this reveal was in the book jacket summary, which was a bummer because I wish I hadn’t known it was coming. This book had a very 1984 feel to it.  J begins to realize there’s more to life than this tower, but he’s unsure what that means. The boys are blind followers of D.A.D., never questioning his authority, THE CORNER is so much like Room 101 that the parallels are downright obvious. All of these examples made me love the book even more. Once I got to the ending, there was no putting his book down. I was rooting for J to figure everything out and then quite crushed as his world kept collapsing under him, little by little, the curtain pulled back more and more. D.A.D. is an excellent villain, leaping off the page, and watching his transformation from bad to worse is simply horrifying. Another excellent novel from Malerman. Hopefully, it tides me over until the Bird Box sequel.

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A House at the Bottom of the Lake

Back on Prime Day, Amazon was giving its members a subscription to Kindle Unlimited for 99 cents. I jumped right on this deal and figured I would be able to find something from my hundreds of books long wish list that was available on Unlimited. I clicked on every single title (Amazon needs to make some changes to what info you can see on the wish lists) and found that 11 of them were on Unlimited. I also learned that you can only borrow 10 titles at a time.

I sorted the titles by length to create an order in which to read them, and this little novella ended up first. I’m a HUGE fan of the author, Josh Malerman. I’ve read and reviewed Bird Box and Black Mad Wheel and Unbury Carol and loved them all, Bird Box being my favorite. I was really excited to dive (pun intended) into this one.

James and Amelia are teenagers who are on a first date boating on a lake. They take a few harrowing narrow tunnels and find a hidden lake. As they paddle around, they notice there’s a house below the water. They hold their breaths, dive, and look around. It appears as if the house has been lived in with fixtures, furniture, knick-knacks, and working lights. Yep, under the water.  Clearly, something fishy (yep, pun intended again) is going on.

The teens can’t get enough of the house. They are magnetically drawn to it, getting scuba gear, and making their explorations just about every day. The power the house has over them begins to invade their “away from the lake” lives. I loved this book. After Bird Box, this was my favorite story of Malerman’s. He is such a great slow-burn horror writer. Instead of gore, he pulls in with suspense and mystery. I look forward to reading a lot more from this talented guy.

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Unbury Carol

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.

 

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Black Mad Wheel

Bird Box is one of the creepiest books I’ve read in years. I read it in one day then barely slept that night. It’s a book I recommend to everyone. So when I heard the author, Josh Malerman, had a new book coming out, I immediately requested my library buy it. And, although it isn’t as good as Bird Box, it was still really enjoyable, creepy, and worth the read.

The format of the book isn’t exactly chronological. The perspective shifts from past to present in alternating chapters. In the past (1950sish period), we meet Philip Tonka and his band mates, The Danes who have been recruited by the US Government to investigate a sound that has been heard in Africa. The sound is debilitating and renders all weapons useless. The government wants the Danes to go in and investigate, partly because they all have war experience and because, with their musical backgrounds, they know sounds.

Present day (still 1950s, but happening currently to the characters) Philip is in a hospital room, nearly every bone in his body broken, The Danes’ whereabouts unknown, waking up from a 6 month long coma. We meet his doctors and nurses and see the speed in which Philip is recovering, so clearly there is something mysterious going on.

I am a fan of this storytelling format. Malerman used the same thing in Bird Box, and it worked great. The suspense build up absolutely works. Two stories paralleling into their climax makes for a double hit of terror. The only downfall of this book (and this is simply personal preference) is that this story didn’t scare me like Bird Box did. That book is easily the third scariest book I’ve ever read (The Shining and Let the Right One In being the other two). That is the only reason why I say I liked Bird Box better. (totally unrelated side note, but if anyone important happens to stumble upon this and if there is a Bird Box movie made, PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEEEAAAAASE, for the love of Pete, don’t show the creatures. It would be so much better that way.)

Malerman is an author I look forward to reading. He has another book, published between these two, that I need to get my hands on! If it’s anything like the other two, I know I will love it.

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Bird Box

I read a book today. Yes, the whole book. This doesn’t happen very often. I rarely have time to read an entire book in one day. And this one was short, so that helped a bit. But, MY GOSH. My heart is still pounding after this one. Never have I been so terrified over an unknown entity.

I just don’t even know where to begin. A friend recommended this book to me ages ago. And I just never made it a priority. But I added it to my “must read in 2016” list and got it from the library. And I nicely fits into my “book you can read in a day” category without being a lame novella, which feels like cheating. Anyway, aforementioned friend and I have similar tastes, and she has yet to lead me astray in a book. Well, that’s not true. Her favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible. Ugh. What a downer. That one aside, she has done well in her recommendations. And this one takes the cake.

Told in past vs present alternating(ish) chapters, you learn about the epidemic/apocalypse/terror that has swept the world. No one knows exactly what it is because anyone who sees it is immediately driven mad and kills himself. Is is even a visible being? Is it foreign? Is it a creature? Does it even matter?

The growing tenseness of this book is what makes it great. Because seeing this entity is what makes you insane, the characters must remain blind. Blackout curtains taped to the walls, doors locked tight, and blindfolds outside. Both past and present stories parallel in their intensity. The heart pounding moments blur together from both plots. As a brand new author, Josh Malerman weaves this frenzy perfectly. You think you’ll get a small break from your nerves when you switch from past to present to past, etc, but no. Each chapter provides its own set of terrors.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. One of the best I’ve read in a long time. It will be awhile before I can get to sleep tonight. I will keep thinking about that scene in the attic. Oh. My.