Del Rey: Ballantine. Oct. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780593237830. $27. HORROR
Malerman (Bird Box) cleverly plays with readers’ minds and emotions by invoking their affection for sweet swines like Wilbur or Babe, before swiftly unleashing his pig protagonist Pearl—a fearsome, telekinetic serial killer. Originally published in 2019 as On This, the Day of the Pig, this is a perfect, fast-paced slasher filled with violent, cinematic action sequences. The frequent point-of-view switches and flashbacks expertly build up the characters, their motivations, and intriguing backstories. From the early days of the farmer’s lessons to the unique and disfigured pig to his unsettling effect on the daughter as she grows, her children, and others in the community with motivations both good and evil, many voices collide under Pearl’s evil, revenge-driven mind control. Yes, it is all moderately absurd, but it is also chillingly serious about issues such as responsible animal farming, humanity’s negative impact on nature, and the psychology of a killer. Readers will be unsettled from the first shocking, bloody scene, and it ratchets up exponentially from there, not only because of the gore, violence, and tension caused by the monster, but also because of what the novel says about humanity.
VERDICT Malerman delivers with another completely different yet equally crowd-pleasing and awesome horror novel that is not to be missed. Fans of tales as varied as Eden by Tim Lebbon, Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, or The Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones will all find something to savor and enjoy here.
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