The Bright Lands

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Jul. 2020. 480p. ISBN 9781335836625. $27.99. HORROR
DEBUT The residents of Bentley, TX, love nothing more than football. When star quarterback Dylan contacts his older brother, Joel, who fled the small, conservative town years ago, their unsettling conversation worries Joel, who immediately hops on a flight home. Shortly after Joel’s arrival, Dylan goes missing, and it’s quickly apparent that something sinister is afoot—and has been for quite some time. With clever nods in style and tone to the work of legendary horror author Bentley Little, Fram delivers a satisfying supernatural mystery in which the town itself is at the heart of the evil. The points of view bounce among multiple well-developed characters, all harboring their own destructive secrets. The sense of dread builds, enveloping the town, its characters, and readers in a terror denser than the “Friday night lights” can penetrate.
VERDICT Fram refers to himself as “Stephen Queen,” and while this should certainly be embraced as a “gay Stephen King” read-alike, it is also a confident and thought-provoking tale that explores complex family dynamics, sexuality, religion, and coming-of-age anxieties within a solid horror frame. A great choice for fans of Victor LaValle or Ania Ahlborn.
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