Unbury Carol

Del Rey: Ballantine. Apr. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780399180163. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399180170. HORROR
OrangeReviewStarBram Stoker Award nominee Malerman (Black Mad Wheel) explores a mythical—and mystical—Old West's deceptively quiet landscape, where denizens maintain social façades masking fears common to those living in the wild. After the loss of a beloved friend, Carol and Dwight Evers wonder who now might be trusted with Carol's chilling secret: unpredictable death-like comas lasting several days. She dreads lapsing into the condition if her husband suffers some deadly accident and leaves her vulnerable to live burial. They must tell someone. But before Carol can do this, she's once more taken to Howltown (her term for her coma). Aware of Carol's past love James Moxie, the Evers' maid telegrams him the sad news of her employer's "death." Unknown to Dwight, who plans burying Carol as quickly as possible in order to abscond with her great fortune, James is not only an outlaw, but he genuinely loves Carol—and knows her secret (which prompted his abandoning her). But James is pursued by more than guilt. Also on his trail is a hired assassin, himself stalked by an otherworldly manifestation of death also hungering for Carol.
VERDICT Admirers of the bleakly lyrical à la Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O'Connor's gothic grotesque will find this appealing. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17.]
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