by Josh Malerman
Hardcover, 262 pages
Fear State: Perfection (5/5)
Imagine not being able to look outside because there were creatures that could drive you mad enough to kill your children or spouse or even yourself? Terrifying right? Seriously, since reading this novel I think about it every time I leave my house to run to the store. Every now and again taking my morning walk gives me pause. Creatures…just an unsettling plot. Needless to say this novel stayed with me.
The novel begins with a woman named Mallory. She’s in a refuge that has sealed windows and locked doors her only company are her two children. They are simply named “Boy” and “Girl”. The fact that she hasn’t even considered their names is unsettling. This small detail clearly paints the picture that there are larger issues afoot than something so trivial as naming your babies. Mallory has decided to finally leave the home that has been a sanctuary to her and her children for four years since their birth. It’s a terrifying revelation given that there are forces she has no idea of how to protect them from. They also have to make this journey blindfolded. Remember, the creatures will drive you mad if you see them.
The story continues from the onset of the apocalypse to the very end of her life with the housemates she lived with right before the children were born. I love the blood stains in the beginning. They add texture to the story all the way to the conclusion of how they occurred. What I loved about this novel is Malerman understands the fear doesn’t lie in the seen and obvious attempts to scare someone. The fear lies within the unseen. The fear lies within the impending threat that could come from any direction and the loneliness of darkness. It lies within a terrifying sound or the feeling of someone’s breath on the back of your neck. His style of writing overwhelms me. In this novel his prose is perfectly executed. I believe in the Malerman brand with my whole heart. I’ve already devoured two of his other novels. Reviews on Unbury Carol and Mad Black Wheel are forthcoming.
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