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Black Mad Wheel

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  3,952 ratings  ·  639 reviews

 From the author of the hit literary horror debut Bird Box (“Hitchcockian.” — USA Today ) comes a chilling novel about a group of musicians conscripted by the US government to track down the source of a strange and debilitating sound

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,952 ratings  ·  639 reviews

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josh malerman has become the go-to dude for sensory horror.

if they ever let monkeys* become book reviewers (why so UNFAIR, world?), this is how it would go:

Bird Box:
 photo 558df446-5879-4f75-acf8-d1a73f9dbf57_zpso8gnwpfx.jpg

Black Mad Wheel:
 photo f857bd54-ce4b-4da4-92f1-5de87f29e8ea_zpsbk4wdoi3.jpg

his (awesome) debut novel, Bird Box, featured an ambiguous “something” that swept the globe; a presence that drove anyone who looked at it mad: homicidal, suicidal, utterly destroyed. it was wonderfully intense, as characters were threatened by a force they could neither name nor even visualize, spending their
4.5/5 stars!

Black Mad Wheel is a story which defies categorization and instead focuses on delivering characters that you like and can believe in.

The Danes are a band consisting of ex-army men, (even if they were only in the army band), who are asked by the military to investigate a noise in the African desert. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but I found it be compelling dark fiction.

From Philip's point of view, (Philip being the band's keyboard player), the narrative switches betwee
Ellen Gail

Ugh. Review to come when I can deal with my crushing disappointment.

Finally reading this! I swore I wouldn't buy any more books. But I really wanted this one, so it doesn't count. Right?

New Josh Malerman book? Sign me the fuck up.

Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
So very, very disappointed. Bottom lip stuck wayyyy out.

Of course, my expectations were pretty high, considering how much I loved Malerman's first book, Bird Box. He proved himself in his creeptastic debut that he's a master of suspense, and creator of original ideas. I've basically been waiting for instalment #2 ever since finishing #1 having been totally disturbed (in a good way) by Gary and the dangerous creatures stalking the earth in his post-apocalyptic masterpiece.

I had a totally differe
3.5 Stars.

"The question is not what you found...but what found you?"

The mission: Locate source of evil, debilitating sound.

The payment: $100k each.

The question: Do you believe in ghosts?

The bottom line: Survival.

Former soldier, Private Philip Tonka wakes up in a military hospital after six months comatose, a broken painful mess of bones trying to piece together what happened to him and his struggling Detroit band/x-soldier buddies after a dangerous and mysterious mission to Africa.

He kn

Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

“This is a matter of national security. Not a love story.”

If you follow me and my (pretty much) daily ramblings, you might have noticed a couple of things. First, I’ve been gone for a bit. I thought I was taking a couple of days off to acquire a lethal dose of skin cancer via way of the local baseball fields, but ended up with nearly a week free of work thanks to a floating holiday that was given to us pee-ons in addition
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-shelf, sci-fi, horror
I really enjoyed Malerman's first novel Bird Box and picked up on the See no Evil, Hear no Evil vibe going on between both of these novels, looking even more toward the next which will have to be a Speak no Evil one or I'm going to give up on reviewing anything forever.

That being said, oh so melodramatically, I wanted to like this particular Hearing Evil novel much more than I did. All the setups in 1957 with a rock band getting propositioned by the US Government on a super secret project was de
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A rocket-fast story told with staccato-like prose, this bad boy whizzes by you equal parts thrilling, philosophical, mysterious, and frightening. There wasn’t a dull moment or a wasted word on these pages. While the end gallops up rapidly and lands on the allegorical side, I was wholly invested in the protagonist’s journey. The voice here is unique, as is the plot itself. This book is a winner, to be sure.
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second effort from the author of Bird Box. It's about a band of musicians that are also a band of solidiers. The premise is a bit thin but the creep factor isn't. I thought that the Bird Box was better but Malerman is an interesting writer and I'll be sure to read whatever he writes next.
Black Mad Wheel's storyline involves sensory horror, military/war-related themes, the suspense of a top secret mission, paranormal activity, rock n roll, historical fiction, and the slow burn mystery of how the member of a rock band had every single bone in his body crunched like a soda can. All this and more is incorporated into a story that reads less like intentional fiction and more like someone recounting their dream from the night before. It's that weird. But it's good. It's about how hist ...more
J.D. Barker
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I spent about a month between the pages of this book, not because I'm a particularly slow reader or because I had trouble getting through it, but because there's something about Josh's writing that calls for a bit of savoring. His sentence structure can be quirky—a one word paragraph followed by a hundred word sentence followed by a thought and maybe a little dialog. He recklessly bounces from head to head, chapter to chapter, past to present and back again. If you were to ask your eleventh grad ...more
Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews
Anyone who has read Bird Box knows that Josh Malerman is capable of reaching inside, grabbing your soul and freaking the hell out of it. Once I saw that he had a new book releasing, I knew that I needed to read it.

Black Mad Wheel played back and forth between two timelines in the protagonist’s life. This is a formula that has worked for Malerman before, I like it; this flow really allows the author to build the mystery, leaving the reader to wonder WTF is going on. Additionally, this format allo
Leslie Ray
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an imagination this author has. I cannot get enough of his books as they provide enough weirdness, horror and strangeness that I devour them in one sitting, if possible. This story revolves around a group of WWII veterans who are musicians in a band called "The Danes" who are asked by the government to investigate a mysterious sound in the African desert. This "sound" renders listeners sick and much worse and renders all weapons ineffective. Some readers take issue with the implausibility o ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Hey, Phil. If you're gonna spew, spew into this."
-Garth Algar, Wayne's World

If it weren't for the vomit on the carpets, this probably would've been a 5-star read for me. I generally do not do horror and definitely don't do sci-fi. But I DO do Josh Malerman whose dark, underbelly of writing suits me just fine.

This addictive story made me initially feel pretty miserable. Physical pain, nausea, foreboding, the inability to move a muscle - all experienced by our protagonist - are not usually a draw
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took a little while for me to get into, but after 75ish pages I was intrigued.
I think I need to create a new bookshelf for this one and call it "Aw-man-really". Because, though I liked the book well enough, I found myself saying "Aw man. Really?!" too many times out loud while listening to it during my commute.

I crushed on Malerman's BIRD BOX so hard core, and had such high hopes for this one. Did I set the book up to fail me? Perhaps. But... aw man... reaaaallly?
Jessica Woodbury
Black Mad Wheel is a very particular type of book, a pastiche of strange and inexplicable things. I am often just fine with a book that leaves things unresolved or ambiguous, but if it does so I need a strong structure/plot/character to go on and this book is not that. It is more of a pastiche, more of a mood and an atmosphere, and so not the kind that I could really sink my teeth into.

As anyone who read Bird Box knows, Malerman is great at suspense and writing an extremely tense book. Black Ma
Melissa Chung
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Well it was something. I definitely had high hopes for this one because I loved Birdbox soooooo much. If you read the lower rated reviews here on Goodreads you'll get a repeat of the same things. Birdbox was so much better. Why did this one fall so flat. Lastly, I see where the author is going with this one. Birdbox is a 'See no Evil' and Black Mad Wheel is a 'Hear no Evil' so we have to assume his book that comes out in 2018 will be a continuation with 'Speak no Evil'. If this is the case I'll ...more
Shane Keene
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What to tell you about this one. I guess the same thing I said on Facebook the other day is appropriate enough: 300 pages of divine madness packed with the kind of twisted mind-fuckery that has become Josh Malerman’s stock in trade. He stormed onto the horror scene with the insanely popular breakout novel, Bird Box, and now he’s showing us with Black Mad Wheel that it was no fluke. He really is just that fucking good. Josh has climbed to the apex of my favorite authors list and it’s going to tak ...more
Scott Kemper
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Have you ever heard a sound so strange, so sharp, so absurd, or nonsensical that you have gotten a severe headache? What about one that will literally shut down your body and make you vomit? That is the sound we're dealing with when it comes to Mad Black Wheel. One not of this earth, one that makes all weapons useless, one that can be used as a weapon.

In Mad Black Wheel, we are introduced to Philip Tonka, the pianist for The Danes. The Danes are a rock band made up of WWII veterans. They have on
Brandon Petry
Josh Malerman is a writer whose books I will probably always buy and read. Each new book that comes out goes in a new direction and he's got a real talent for unforgettable scenes. Some of the moments and images in Malerman's books will stay with you long after you've finished the book. I love that.

And he seems like a great guy whose love of the genre and passion for writing are only matched by his enthusiasm for giving the reader a great show. For those interested, I highly recommend checking
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Josh Malerman’s first novel, Bird Box, is my all-time favourite horror novel. It’s the only book that has truly frightened me and I thought it was remarkably atmospheric and suspenseful. I quickly decided that I would be reading all of Josh Malerman’s future books. I was extremely excited when I heard his sophomore novel was coming out and I was intrigued by the premise, though I did notice a vague similarity to Bird Box. In his first novel, the sight of some unknown entity renders a person insa ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Malerman's follow up novel is a riveting page turner as suspenseful and satisfying as Bird Box.
Michelle Morrell
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, x-read-2017
Much like Bird Box, his first book, the author takes something one of our senses and weaponizes it. In Bird Box, it was seeing something that drives you mad. Here, in Black Mad Wheel, it's a sound. A sound that incapacitates and destroys, but does it destroy, or does it create?

A group of musicians are sent into the African desert to track down this sound, which they of course find. Shenanigans ensue.

I enjoyed the atmosphere, the feelings of dread and horror, and the shifting perceptions. The en
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: it-is-what-it-is
No. Just no. This book was such a disappointment to me after the thrill ride that was Bird Box.

The premise sounded fantastic - Members of a popular band are recruited by the US Army to determine the source and location of a sound located somewhere in the African desert which renders man and weapon useless. Before that can happen though, we're introduced to the somewhat contrived backstory of the men being sent to Africa.

The book takes places in the 50s. After having been overseas for WWII, the
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Bird Box it was one of my favourite books of 2015. I was so looking forward to this and it is a very different book but it does have the same creepy 'what's going to happen' feel of something unseen and unknown.

"Philosophy doesn't travel at the same speed technology does. It takes a man forty years to realise what it took his farther forty years to realise. And what's worse, he resists the truths his father's come to know, until he learns them himself. Meanwhile, technology doesn't wait
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I close the cover gently and lay it on the seat next to me. I turn to my husband and say, "I hated it".

No joke, those were the first words out of my mouth.
Bloody hell.
I gave it 2 stars, one because the idea was intriguing and the 2nd because... uh....

It just wasn't my cup of tea and I'm so annoyed at myself for not liking it. Ugh.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
WTF was that? I can tell you what it wasn’t - anything near as good as Bird Box.
I put up with most of it thinking there might be some great payoff at the end to make reading this worth it, but overall I think I just lost hours of my life I’ll never get back.

It felt a lot like when I read Annihilation with the very strange and dream-like writing style except in this case it didn’t work for me, but then again I ended up not caring for Annihilation either. Trust me, take a pass on this one.

Glenn Rolfe
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Man, rating a Malerman book is really, really difficult for me. On the one hand, he's original as all get out, but his strange paths tend to go in weird directions that leave me confused.
That said, BLACK MAD WHEEL is a story of a band selected by the government to go find the source of a powerful sound in the African desert.
For me, the story started off disjointed and slow. I almost stopped reading, but forced myself along.

I'm glad I did.

Philip is the main character here, the piano player. Tho
Bryan Alexander
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gothic, musik
Oh, what a disappointment.

I came to Black Mad Wheel after enjoying Malerman's first novel, Bird Box (my review). Bird Box was engaging, surprising, creepy, and full of promise for future work.

The first chapters of Black Mad Wheel suggested that promise was being fulfilled. We begin with a mystery, then explore it along divergent paths in the present and past. The mystery turns on a powerful sound discovered in the Namib Desert, an audio effect so powerful that it can break human bones, render we
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Josh Malerman is the author of BIRD BOX and the singer/songwriter for the band THE HIGH STRUNG.

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