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Unbury Carol

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Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.

367 pages, Hardcover

First published April 10, 2018

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About the author

Josh Malerman

25 books6,174 followers
Josh Malerman is the New York Times best selling author of BIRD BOX, MALORIE, GOBLIN, PEARL, GHOUL n THE CAPE, and more.
He's also one of two singer/songwriter for the rock band The High Strung.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,133 reviews
Profile Image for Debra .
2,414 reviews35.2k followers
November 9, 2017
"I'm a thing old enough to know that old was once young and that because young becomes old there is not love of life, only a fear of decay."

Unbury Carol is sort of a mash up between a spaghetti western, the Brother's Grimm's Sleeping Beauty and do I dare say it, a Quentin Tarantino movie? I could seriously see Tarantino doing a movie with this book. Some of the characters are almost cartoonish such as Smoke - and I do mean that in a good way. He is a nasty piece of work.

I am not a fan of westerns, True Grit and a couple of others are the exception to this. I'll be honest. I requested this book because I LOVED Bird Box. I was hoping that this book would be in the same vain - it's not. It's unique and as I stated it feels like a mash up of the various interests of the Author. Having said that, this book started slow for me then my interest grew and I was intrigued.

Carol Evers has a secret that very few know - she slips into coma's. She appears to be dead but has a slight very hard to feel pulse. While in her comas she literally falls into a place she has named Howltown. After the funeral of her close friend, she slips into one of her comas, and her devious husband, Dwight, decides to make his move. He has married Carol for her money and now that she appears to be dead, he decides to Cash in. He plans to bury her alive and feels no one in town will be the wiser. But being devious makes a man paranoid, so he hires another man, by the name of Smoke to kill the only other person who knows about Carol's condition - her former boyfriend, the famous outlaw, James Moxie. Moxie is famous for killing a man in a duel without even pulling the trigger. No one knows how he pulled this off and for this reason he is feared.

"Can a man set right his past?"

Dwight has a right to be afraid because James Moxie has received word of Carol's "death" and he has sent a telegram stating that she is "not dead". James takes to the infamous and dangerous "Trail" in hopes of arriving in time to save Carol. He has tremendous guilt over leaving her upon learning her secret and wants to set things right. Along the way, James encounters those who idolized him and want to help such as Rinaldo and Moxie's former partner, Jefferson.

"A hero is always recognizable to those who adore him."

Along the way, the reader learns about Moxie's past and his feat of "magic" during a dual. Moxie is also haunted by Rot who does not want Moxie to arrive to save Carol. Rot, I akin to a demon or a devil. Moxie is, in a way, also wrestling his own demons as he makes his way along the trail in hopes of rescuing Carol.

"I am present when things fall apart."

Then there is Smoke, hired by Dwight to catch James Moxie on the trial and prevent him from saving Carol's life. Smoke has his nickname for the obvious reason that he likes to burn things, he is also crippled and walks on fakes legs. Legs he uses to hide the oil he needs to start his fires. He is a scary man and is feared by all who he encounters. Smoke is scary and dangerous. He enjoys what he does and has no problem taking life. He gets off on watching things burn.

"Hell, I let you live. You wanna live, doncha?"

I'll be honest, when I started this I thought "WTF am I reading?" I also felt like Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's novel Misery.. I wanted to say "What is this Cock-a-doodie book about, Mr. Man?" But I kept with it, because I loved Bird Box, and this book grew on me. Honestly, at first I didn't know if I liked this book or not. It is one that I thought about a lot as I read and after...but that is what I kinda love...when a book has me scratching my head trying to figure out if I like it or not. One that stays with you and you are not sure why. This is one of those books. It's very clever and as I mentioned Quentin Tarantino earlier, this book felt very much like a Tarantino movie to me, not in way in the story or plot but in the feel of it.

I will say that I wanted more excitement at the end. More of a BOOM, if you will. Things got tidied up pretty fast and I would have liked a little more action. But there were a couple of surprises as the end. One that I did not see coming. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was great storytelling. This book is very clever, strange, entertaining, and fun.

I received a copy of this book from Random House publishing - Ballantine and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to them.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
April 16, 2019
i have decided to give this five stars after all, because i can’t really think of anything i didn’t like about it, but so many readers had so much less fun than me, i worry i will be cast outta goodreads for my opinion!

good thing i have a blog now.

i don’t mind that this book isn't a horror novel. i wouldn’t classify either Black Mad Wheel or A House at the Bottom of a Lake as horror, so i didn't have any hardwired genre expectations going into my fourth malerman.

as far as what it IS, well, it's a dark fantasy/fairytale/western with some horror dustings that has a lot of fun subverting genre conventions. and if i ever had to make a tick-the-box wishlist of “things i like to read,” that’d be a pretty good start.

it reminded me a lot of Smonk, which is a kinda-sorta western that is so full of over-the-top, campy violence and general ickiness that it comes across more comedic than disturbing. the tone of the violence here is the same - it's a rollicking book with the same quality to its violence as SMONK, although far less quantity.

Unbury Carol is essentially a sleeping beauty rework: carol has a condition that she has suffered with in secret her whole life - it’s a little bit like narcolepsy on steroids - in times of stress, she will fall into a sleeplike state so deep that it slows down all of her bodily functions - her pulse and breathing cannot be detected unless someone knows what to look for, and she appears to be dead, even though not only is she still alive, she’s not even truly asleep - she can hear what is going on around her paralyzed body, and what she experiences while she is under is a long slow fall through a place she calls howltown.

i’m not really clear why she has kept her condition a secret, except for the fact that it serves the narrative. the only people who knew were her mother (now deceased) her bestie john bowie (now deceased), her former lover james moxie (estranged) and her husband dwight. unfortunately for her, her husband dwight is a golddigging jerk tired of living in carol's shadow and when she has a howltown spell following the death of john bowie, leaving dwight the only person alive (so he believes) who knows she’s not for-realsies dead, it becomes more lucrative for him to keep his mouth shut and get her buried ASAP.

what follows is a high-stakes race between several parties: dwight trying to get her in the ground, carol struggling to wake up before he succeeds, james moxie, now an outlaw legendary for a miraculous gunfight he once won in a town called abberstown, riding a dangerous trail to save a woman he hasn’t seen in years, unknowingly pursued by an assassin named smoke who has two oil-filled prosthetic legs made of tin and a head full of crazy.

i love the energy of this book, i love the episodic feel of the events and adventures along the trail, i love how “what happened in abberstown” is withheld time and again, in oh-so-pleasantly-frustrating ways. smudged to black, indeed.

but i must confess, even after the abberstown reveal, i still don’t understand it. i understand how the reenactment worked, but given the conditions of the original - time, witnesses, etc - i don’t understand how he pulled it off. magicians - wanna risk being cast outta the guild and tell me what’s what?

i had a ball with this one, and i read it in a day, breaking a long, disappointing streak of not being able to concentrate on books the way i used to. for that alone - reminding me that i enjoy reading - it gets five stars.

bonus glee - malerman's notes in the pagehabit edition were great fun and full of plans and promises i hope he fulfills.


oh, man - that was so much fun! i'm bummed so many readers weren't into it. but i loved it - i really needed something fun and feisty to cheer me up outta my glums, and this certainly helped.

review to come.


this month's pagehabit horror box has arrived!!

which means i really need to get cracking on mt. stackmore - i still haven't read last month's horror book yet. yeesh. but i am looking forward to this, and i love malerman's little letter w/ doodles:

i'm also melting a little at this cat-eraser in a box. i may have wept a little.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,478 reviews7,775 followers
March 14, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/


You ready???? Okay . . . . .

Carol is “dead” – her evil husband (who was TOTALLY Justin LaMonte in my brain). Sidenote (yes already a sidenote): Do y’all know who Justin Lamonte is? Probably not because you’re not ancient, but if you too are old you might remember him as a super douchebag from North and South . . . .

Anyway, Justin Lamonte Dwight wants to get Carol in the dirt stat so he can have all of her dollah dollah bills yo. Buuuuuuuuut he’s in a race against time as Carol’s former beau was sent a telegram regarding her “death” and is coming to save the day – which again made my brain take a trip on the wayback machine and James Moxie was all Jessie from Kathleen Turner’s novels in Romancing the Stone . . . . .

But should have probably been more like this . . . .

Because you kind of get beaten over the head with the fact that he’s an outlaw Josey Wales.

I have to admit I had to give a little bit of the side-eye to that very necessary plot point because . . . . .

Would the maid really notify this long-lost love that Carol told her about for like two seconds before eating the dirt and falling into one of her spells/comas/narcoleptic limbos that Carol was dead???? Probably not, but she has to here or there’s zero book.

And that’s my problem with most of the book. Ideas that weren’t fully thought out, characters who REALLY weren’t fully fleshed out and a synopsis that was way more interesting than the end result turned out to be left me feeling seriously meh throughout my entire reading experience. I should have known this might be a miss for me after not only having a bit of a rough go of it with Black Mad Wheel, or as I like to call it . . . .

But doubly so when it was pretty clear this story would take place in the Old West which makes me all . . . .

However, all I can ever think about when I see Malerman’s name is Bird Box which pretty much results in me being like . . . . .

Unbury Carol did not end up being the book for me, but Josh Malerman definitely knows how to words good so as soon as I see his name again I’m sure my reaction will be . . . .

Head’s up for any of you who are thinking this is going to be a horror: Prepare yourself because it sure as pig shit isn’t. And speaking of all the talk about pig shit, Mitchell has this to say about that . . . .

I say don’t turn it into a drinking game or you will quickly discover the following is a huge lie . . . .

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
March 2, 2018
Carol Evers suffers from a bizarre condition: at times of stress, she lapses into a coma that closely resembles death, only she can hear what's going on around her. Now she's in one of her comas and her husband is planning on burying alive. The only man that can save her is a notorious outlaw that ran from her and her condition years ago, James Moxie...

Josh Malerman is all the rage these days. What better way to give him a shot than a Netgalley ARC of his upcoming book!

Unbury Carol takes place in a period not unlike the 1890s. It has a distinctively western feel but I don't think any of the places are real. Carol suffers from a weird condition that makes me think that if he doesn't suffer from sleep paralysis, Josh Malerman has at least read up on it. As someone who suffers the occasional bout of sleep paralysis, that's sure what it reminded me of. Carol calls the dark place she goes to Howltown, since she can only hear the hoarse sound of her own breathing. Creepy, huh?

The story is a race against time, with James Moxie hauling ass from Mackatoon to save his long lost love from being buried alive in Harrows, all the while with a hitman on his trail. It started a little slow but things got pretty hectic. The writing was good but nothing earth-shattering. I'd say the ever-building suspense was the star of the Wild West show.

Dwight Evers was a worm and Smoke was a psychotic arsonist, making for a pair of villains whose hash I couldn't wait to see settled. Moxie was a driven man seeking to put things right before it was too late. Still, Carol was the most interesting character, even though she just laid there, comatose but listening, for most of the book. Carol being helpless but aware made me feel claustrophobic at times. The ending was extremely satisfying. I would have done a "Yes!" with a fist pump but I had a couple sleeping cats to consider.

Unbury Carol was one hell of a gripping read. I'll be reading more Josh Malerman in the future. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,155 followers
January 10, 2019
3.5 Outrageously Far-Out Stars.......

UNBURY CAROL is a bizarre story of good vs. evil with a strange mix of....magical realism....old time west...tricks and tricksters....and even a bit of paranormal when monster ROT enters the dreaded world Carol calls Howltown.

Carol's frightening (secretive) health condition makes her appear dead as a doornail when she literally falls into a coma and almost no one knows about it, so....after confidant and best buddy John Bowie dies; Who should she tell?....Who can she trust?....Her husband?

Get ready for the weirdest of weird as you meet up with a whole slew of oddball characters and progress along the ole trail, including the dangerous and creepy bad guy Smoke, (who loves a good fire) AND the trail's most legendary trickster of an outlaw, John Moxie, who rushes in hopefully to save the day (and an old flame) from a fate worse than death....being buried alive. (no spoiler here)

UNBURY CAROL - Just a plain old fun read albeit with an ending that could have packed a more powerful punch! That being said, bring on more Josh Malerman. I'll gladly read them all!

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for the ARC coming April 10, 2018 in exchange for an unbiased review.

Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews736 followers
September 27, 2018
Gotta think about this... Storyline is unique, definitely has potential.... the telling is brooding, a creepy tale... Oh, this author's previous book, Bird Box, wew, was so very good! But this one just seemed to drag on a bit too much for me. Fastread/skipped a couple parts I admit. Mmm.... gotta think. No doubt this author is good, with a great imagination. Three and a bit, but no four star I'm afraid. Sleep on it I will, without fear of being buried alive ;-) More to follow.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,036 reviews690 followers
March 26, 2018
Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

How dead can you be, and still be alive? Carol Evers can tell you all about it the next time she wakes up.  She can listen with her mind's ear, no one else can hear.  

The Trail, where legends are made, where you can expect tricky lighting, and space that is "off".  Now, throw in Smoke and a mirror.  A sour memory and a lost love.   I'd advise steering clear of Smoke.  He has a penchant for oil (only the good stuff will do!), and he talks in sing-song rhyme-ish whispers.  A horrifying pair of prosthetics and some weird ass pants, and he's good to go.  

If you are looking for something different, this would fall into that category.  
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,983 followers
August 7, 2018
First off, I will say that this is definitely not Bird Box. If you want to read this because you loved Bird Box, that is okay, but if you think you will be disappointed if it is not like Bird Box, then you probably won’t like it.

I thought it was pretty good! I was leaning towards 5 starts until the end when things started to get awfully convenient. In fact,. I feel like I have been reading a lot of books lately where I am invested until the very end and then it just kind of peters out.

But, all the stuff leading up to the end is pretty cool. Both the good and the bad characters are interesting. It is a quest book with a nice map to follow in the beginning – that is pretty cool, too. Also, some of the action sequences and mysteries are creative and intriguing. Definitely worth the exposition if you don’t mind a slightly blah payoff.

One big thing about this book is it kept reminding me of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King; especially the parts of the Dark Tower that take place prior to the main story line. It has a gritty Western-Fantasy feel. I thought this was very well done and I enjoyed envisioning the world in my head.

To summarize:
• If you need this to be another Bird Box – DON’T READ
• If you need a spectacular ending – DON’T READ
• If you like exposition and world building (and don’t mind if it doesn’t have the best payoff) – READ
• If you are a fan of the Dark Tower series – READ
• Final thought – I liked it and I am glad I read it. I am looking forward to more from Malerman, I just hope he can avoid wrapping things up too conveniently in the future!
Profile Image for Char.
1,680 reviews1,554 followers
April 9, 2018
3.5 stars!

Hell's Heaven! I haven't been this torn about a book in a long while. UNBURY CAROL was brave in exploring new territory, (weird western, I'd call it), while at the same time it wallowed in repetition.

Carol has a rare condition which causes her to fall into a coma for days at the drop of a hat. To anyone unfamiliar with her disease, she appears to be dead. It's important for at least someone to know what's going on with her so that she doesn't get buried alive by mistake. However, Carol is reluctant to tell many people for fear of rejection, and in one case, the departure of her true love who just didn't want to deal with the responsibility. Will she ever find true love again? Will there ever be a cure for her malady? You'll have to read this book to find out.

I'm going to attempt to be honest here, while also attempting not to spoil anything. I feel obligated to mention the repetition of certain words and phrases. They had me rolling my eyes repeatedly. "Hell's Heaven" (!), is a phrase that nearly everyone uses to no end. It's this world's version of OMG, or Holy S**t, I guess. One overused word was "outlaw." (I get it. These are outlaws. We're in the west, they're wanted and/or BAD men.) Lastly "pig-shitt**s." Low down and dirty are the pig shitt**s. I get it. EVERYONE gets it. I'm speculating that the author used these words and phrases with the aim of world-building, and perhaps they helped to accomplish that...at first. After that, they just became so repetitious and irritating that it became kind of funny. (Or that could just be me, I'm told my sense of humor is off.)

Speaking of that world-building-I've read that the hardcover has a map of the Trail. (Everything that happens in this book happens along the Trail itself, or in the villages and towns located on the Trail.) That map is something I would like to see and I'd also like to read more about the Trail in the future. The villains in this book were interesting and a lot of fun, and they ALL had seemed to have some history that involved the Trail. In most cases, those people and the Trail's history were more interesting than the main characters-at least for me.

So, again, I am torn. I loved the creativity and imagination that went into Carol's disease and the building of this western world, while I was bothered by the repetition and what felt like an anti-climactic finale. Where does that leave us? At a 3.5/5 star rating. As always, your mileage may vary and I wold love to hear your thoughts on UNBURY CAROL when you're done!

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*
Profile Image for Bill.
1,592 reviews111 followers
March 24, 2018
To be fair I only made it 10? 15? 20%? into this one. I don't even know and don't care enough to look it up. Whatever percent it was, it was too much and I couldn't go on.

I hated everything about this one except for the "idea". Too bad, I was looking forward to it and it sounds good on paper...but not on the page.

Edited 3-23-18
After recently watching a video on beta readers by my friend Edward, I felt bad that I just gave this one a single star without any explanation other than I really didn't like it.

The reason I didn't like it was that it was clunky writing with choppy dialog in an over the top fairy-taley, hot western mess. I didn't care about anything going on and I was bored to tears. It was becoming painfully obvious how it was going to end and I just didn't care about any of the characters and couldn't bring myself to read one more page.

Whew. I feel better now.
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 21 books4,799 followers
March 29, 2018
Thank you to the publisher for an Advanced Reader's Copy for all seven of the Night Worms review group in exchange for honest reviews. This book is out on April 10th.

Of course, after reading Bird Box, I put Josh Malerman in the group of "authors that write books I want to read." Malerman's female protagonist in Bird Box exists in an apocalyptic state of events with a major physical handicap. In this book, Unbury Carol, our protagonist Carol is in a "wild, wild west" setting and also suffers from a major, physical handicap.
But the emphasis really isn't on Carol--it's on the cast of male characters introduced to us through their involvement with her and her strange condition.
I feel like the first 25% of this book was a very slow burn. I figured early on that this wasn't going to be a scary story--this is not horror. So my push here is to make sure horror fans and Bird Box fans, know that.
In the beginning, there is lots of build-up and stage setting, traveling, planning, character building but very little actually happening. There were some phrases or words planted so many times that I actually wondered if there was a hidden treasure map or message of some sort tugging for attention (I don't need to highlight those words, you'll see for yourself).
But hang in there!
The last 75% of the book makes it all worth while.
The tension begins to build, you start becoming very invested in the villains of the story rather than our damsel in distress. The beauty of this tale is that it is so unique and strange it almost feels like it could have come from the mind of Neil Gaiman--like a dark, whimsical fantasy and I kept reminding myself that this came from the same author of Bird Box, so I was pretty impressed with Malerman's versatility. Not to mention, he treats this plot with an attention to detail and a seriousness that makes the book stand by itself, outside any genre-normative stereotypes. This isn't horror, it's not a fantasy, it's not a Western, it's just it's own style and it deserves to be read by fans of just about anything. I also want to say that during the dialog I had with fellow Night Worms and also having read some early reviews (I didn't want to read them but I kind of had to-long story) I kept seeing people talk about how Carol's situation is just another misogynistic plot trope but my argument to that is: Carol's housekeeper, Farrah, evens out the scales and the two women, Farrah and Carol can almost be considered as one--Carol's mind and Farrah's physical execution-to which, she (the two characters) make one, complete and pretty bad ass character. (without getting too spoilery)
My final thoughts: If you are a fan of Malerman, this is one for the collection. It shows his range and his knack for out of the box, imaginative stories. He's writes great characters and brilliant dialog. I'm looking forward to reading Black Mad Wheel and Goblin next. I want a full Malerman collection at the end of the day.

Profile Image for Cody | CodysBookshelf.
739 reviews228 followers
March 28, 2018
Being an active Goodreads user, I put great importance on writing and, especially, reading reviews. I will admit reviews definitely impact what I choose to read: my TBR is long and I want to read the best books possible. Unbury Carol, the upcoming release from Josh Malerman, has not been getting good reviews — especially from my friends, people I trust in the GR community. Since his book was chosen as the second Nightworms read, however, I had no choice but to jump in and hope for the best.

And wasn’t I shocked! Wow. I feel a little weird giving this five stars because I expected to hate it . . . but no, I could not put this down. It hits the ground running and doesn’t let up.

This author is well known for his bestselling horror novel Bird Box. I feel it is prudent to warn that this is not exclusively a horror novel: the narrative combines horror elements with suspense, western, fantasy, romance, a hint of gothic flavoring . . . and it is done well, always keeping a firm grip on its strange, amalgamated identity.

The titular character, Carol, has long been prey to an oddity: at random times she falls into death-like comas that last for days, comas in which she is totally aware of all that is going on around her — albeit the goings-on seem strange, manipulated, and the comas are accompanied by a continuous falling sensation. Her greedy husband, Dwight, has concocted a scheme and decides to use his wife’s illness to rob her of her money. From there the story unspools: throughout, the reader is introduced to an eclectic cast of outlaws and magic beings, demons and gilded lovers. Malerman did an excellent job of bringing each of the characters to life, in this version of the Wild West that is so totally his — where time seems endless and strange; where trickster spirits walk with men.

Unbury Carol scared the hell out of me, and I had fun with it, too. What more can you ask for? Check it out when it releases next month.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews924 followers
November 27, 2017
No one likes to be one of the pioneering negative reviews for a book, especially when you're already invested in the author, so let me start out by saying: some readers are going to love this. Unbury Carol is not a bad book by any means - it was just not the book for me.

I recently read and adored Bird Box, and even though the summary for Unbury Carol seemed about as different from Bird Box as anything could be, I had enough faith in Malerman's storytelling to confidently dive in. What I found was a very bizarre story, sort of a spaghetti western-horror-fantasy-fairytale hybrid.

Basically, Carol Evers has this condition where she goes into a coma for days at a time, and while she's unconscious, she appears dead - you have to wait for a full minute to feel a pulse. When she slips into a coma at the beginning of the novel, this time her husband Dwight is conniving to bury her alive and steal her fortune. When he gets wind of what's going on, a notorious outlaw - and Carol's ex-lover - James Moxie, has to ride the Trail to Carol's town, racing against time to save her.

Here's my main problem with Unbury Carol: it relies on and perpetuates one of the most tired tropes of all time - the damsel in distress. That's essentially what Carol is for the duration of the book. Whether Malerman eventually subverts this trope by having Carol save herself (which is hinted at early on as a possibility), I can't say without getting into spoiler territory, but the fact is, rather than focusing on Carol herself, the majority of this novel is told from the point of view of male characters who have a vested interest in Carol's fate: her husband Dwight, her former lover James, and a criminal called Smoke who's hired to prevent James from reaching Carol in time. As an avid reader, it feels stale, and as a feminist, it feels insulting, to have Carol's story stripped from her and framed around so many male characters. To clarify - Carol does have POV chapters. I don't think everyone is going to agree with my assessment about her lack of agency - you could even argue that that's the point, to illustrate the injustice of male characters having to fight for Carol's sake. It just didn't quite sit right with me, especially from a male author. I think any good intentions Malerman may have had with this book got swallowed up by a sort of unwieldy execution.

The good news is that Malerman still has a great way with words, and I flew through this pretty quickly. I liked several of his characters, too, especially Carol's young and intelligent housekeeper, Farrah. Fans of westerns will probably be especially riveted by this story, which does well to evoke an old-timey western atmosphere, even though there are more fantastical elements than you'd traditionally expect. But the fact that I couldn't even make it through Westworld probably should have clued me in that this wasn't going to be for me.

Thank you to Del Rey and Josh Malerman for the ARC received in exchange for an honest review. Unbury Carol will be published in April 2018.
Profile Image for Mindi.
860 reviews274 followers
March 29, 2018
I have literally just finished this book, and it completely exceeded my expectations.

I will often take a peek at spoiler-free reviews before I pick up a book, and I was a bit disappointed when I noticed that quite a few of the reviews on Goodreads were negative. People that I respect were calling this one a DNF, and others just flat out didn't like it. I was worried going in, especially since this book was selected as the second book for a review group I'm in called NightWorms, and I don't want to give up on any book that we choose as a group. I feel that the group owes each writer we choose at least the courtesy of finishing their book before weighing in, and so no matter what, I was going to force myself to finish.

Carol Evers has a condition. She never knows when or for how long her condition will occur, but since she was a child Carol suddenly falls into comas that she cannot escape and that make her appear to everyone as if she has died. But Carol is very much still alive in the coma, a place she calls Howltown, and even though she appears dead and is unable to move or speak, she can hear everything that happens while she is under.

Unfortunately for Carol, her husband Dwight decides to take advantage of her condition, and declares her dead in order to claim her vast inheritance. Dwight has a number of nasty folks working to help him get Carol in the ground before she wakes, but what he doesn't know is that Carol is beloved, and she too has friends and an old outlaw lover who are racing to beat the clock to keep her from being buried alive.

Once Carol's funeral day arrives the tension mounts and doesn't let up until the very end.

Thank Hell's Heaven that not only did I not have to force myself to read this one, but after a point I could barely put it down. Malerman creates a world that is filled with so many interesting characters. Love them or hate them, all of them are richly created and make the story engaging.
Unbury Carol is a western with a paranormal flair and a touch of magic, even if the magic exists only because we want to believe in it.

I was so invested in Carol's story, and I loved the backstories that Malerman gives to the outlaws Moxie and Smoke. Smoke especially is a complicated character, immediately despised by the reader, and yet forced to become a hated man. I loved the complex and intriguing characters, the pace of the story, and how it builds to a nail-biting conclusion. This book is the reason every reader should take reviews with a grain of salt. Not everyone is going to love the same books, and that's what makes the book community exciting. If we all loved the same stories, it would be a very boring world with no debate or discussion, and I love the discussions. I know I'm really going to enjoy discussing Unbury Carol with my fellow NightWorms and other readers everywhere.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,739 reviews2 followers
April 17, 2018
2.5 stars.

UNBURY CAROL, by Josh Malerman is a difficult book for me to review. On one hand, his writing is very nice and fluid (in parts), but overall, the repetition of certain phrases had me practically rolling my eyes by the end.

The premise of this story is very original. Carol has a rare condition that causes her to go into a coma for days at a time, appearing dead. Now married to someone who only wants her money, he plans on making her next "death" the "real deal". Enter an "outlaw/boyfriend" from Carol's past to come save the day. Okay, I will admit upfront that this was much more of a fantasy/western/romance than any sort of horror book, which I wasn't too thrilled with. However, with the original condition given Carol, I could still conceivably have gotten into this one if it wasn't for all the annoying repetitions, and the fact that it was all too easy to see WHERE the story was going to end up.

At least, it's only one novel. I did enjoy his previous novel, BIRDBOX,, and have another book by him in my TBR pile that I hope will be more in keeping with the style I originally liked of his. Everyone's opinion may vary, so if Fantasy/Western/Romances are your thing, you will probably enjoy this one much more than I did.

Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 36 books441 followers
Shelved as 'quit-dnf'
May 14, 2018
DNF at 15%. This one is just not clicking with me at all, and Malerman's latched onto certain words he repeats ad naseum. Every single character, apparently, must utter the phrase "Hell's heaven" in every conversation they have (word search shows 45 instances of this throughout the book). And if I have to be told one more time that John Moxie is an outlaw, I'm going to break my Kindle. Word search shows 150 instances of the word "outlaw" cropping up, and I just don't think I can take it. One section, at the 29% marker, even includes the following bit of dialogue:

"Hell's heaven, Carol... He's on his way here! An outlaw! Hell's heaven, Carol."

I just... I can't. Not anymore. I'm freaking bored to tears with this one, and it's giving me more aggravation than its worth. I'm also feeling like, at only 15%, a hell of a lot of words have been expended to tell very, very little story. It's frustrating. I give up.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,743 reviews6,669 followers
April 18, 2018
Josh Malerman writes what he wants and that is just fine with me. Whether it's a mother trying to keep her kids alive, a group of musicians trying to save the world, or an outlaw trying to rescue his ex-lover, they all have one thing in common: Malerman communicates desperation and incredibly deep themes in a storyline that is as unique as a fingerprint.

In Unbury Carol, Malerman uses a combination of western, horror, thriller/suspense, paranormal, a little bit of steampunk, and wild west humor to tell a story about murder and betrayal. The many, many characters introduced along the way are fun to follow and surprisingly complex, and the "hero" in this story is one who is not only trying to save Carol, but trying to save himself in the process.

When I first started reading, I didn't think I would enjoy this book. I was confused by the "western" feel of it at first glance. But then I met Smoke (yeah!), got to know the guilt-ridden James Moxie more, and watched Carol grow with strength and determination despite the obstacles holding her down. Unbury Carol is different but it was the kind of different I ended up enjoying. I hope you do to!

My favorite quote:
“Do you see the path? Do you see the prints? Yes … you know the steps well. I imagine they look different from the ones you remember … the ones that replay in your sleepless slumber. They look different from the ones you try to avoid when you walk the dirt roads of your memory. They look different not because they are, but because you remember them wrong. You remember them as smaller than they were … someone else's steps … the decision of a younger man. But that younger man is you and these are your prints. You have altered them to fit the bottom of boots you can live with … a size you no longer recognize … someone else's choice. Here … I give you the boots … try them on … tell me they do not fit. They do … James Moxie … they do ...”
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
315 reviews2,418 followers
May 26, 2018

For transparency --I did not listen to the whole book. It is a western, which is okay, but I just couldn't get into it.

I gave it the old college try because I absolutely loved Bird Box and I think the author, Josh Malerman, has an INCREDIBLE imagination.

This is the story of Carol, she falls into deep comas repeatedly throughout her life. When this happens, people think she is dead since her very light pulse is almost impossible to detect. She calls it going to "Helltown" because of the weird things she experiences while out. This is the old West, so she keeps her medical condition a well-guarded secret. You know you don't want to be called a witch or a lunatic back then. But, it is of paramount importance that at least a couple of close people in her life know her secret and are around to keep her from being buried alive. You can imagine all the trouble this would lead to, if one of her trusted confidantes has an ulterior motive to cash in on Carol's money.

Several GR reviews state this is a slow book to get into, but really picks up later with the action. It already felt a bit predictable and I just gave up.

I still gotta hand it to Malerman, his ideas are out there! I will definitely try some more of his books.
Profile Image for Aslı Dağlı.
Author 109 books364 followers
October 4, 2018
Ve #UnburyCarol'i teslim ettim! Once boyun fitigi ve 20 kusur gun kesilmeyen korkunc bir bas agrisiyla baslayan, durmadan dislerimin kirilmasiyla devam eden ve en sonunda koca bir ameliyat olmamla sonuclanan surec yuzunden defalarca kesintiye ugrayan bu muhtesem hikaye nihayet bitti. Inanilmazdi.

Oncelikle Josh Malerman'in her kitapta bambaska bir is yapiyor olmasina cok bayiliyorum. Kafes farkliydi, Kirmizi Piyano epey degisikti, Unbury Carol ise bambaskaydi! Bu defa geriliminden hicbir sey kaybetmeyen fantastigimsi bir dunya yaratmis. Ceviri surecimin ortalarinda soylemistim; yine soyleyecegim. Unbury Carol bana buram buram karanlik bir Neil Gaiman hikayesi gibi koktu ve bu hale cidden bayildim. Umarim siz de benim kadar seversiniz.

Simdi... sirada iki acayipli surprizim var. Birini az cok tahmin ediyorsunuz, digerinden ise henuz haberiniz yok. O yuzden kosarak calismaya doneyim. Zira beni bekleyen mis gibi bir son okuma (elbette cevirisi yine bana ait olan bir kitabin) ve cevrilecek muhtesem bir kitap var.

Herkese tatli okumalar!
Profile Image for exorcismemily.
1,265 reviews335 followers
December 27, 2018
"Fear was no stranger to Howltown, no traveler from the Trail, but the fear she felt now was shattering."

I read Unbury Carol as the second book for the Night Worms review team. This was a rollercoaster for me - I really enjoyed some parts, and struggled with others. I want to say up front that I am not particularly fond of books with a lot of traveling, so keep that in mind when reading my review.

I think I would classify this as a paranormal western. Don't go into this expecting a horror novel. I was expecting some creepiness, and I may have set myself up for disappointment with that.

This book is a slow burn. There's a lot of planning/plotting & waiting. I thought there would be more happening in Carol's coma world, but she was just stuck in there, and that was it. There are a lot of words, and not a ton of action, and the lovers of slow burns are going to appreciate that. For me, this book was very long for the story that was being told, and I felt like I was waiting for something throughout most of the book.

It seemed like this book was going to focus on Carol, but she is more of a secondary character to the men in her life. At some points, she seems to be relegated to the status of an object because of the absolute lack of control over her own life (the sickness part is not her fault). Men move her around, men want to save her, men try to figure out what other men are up to regarding her situation. The women in the novel are either dead, appear to be dead, or are drinking & crying. I had hoped for more in this area.

In all honesty, I think I would have felt differently about this book if it was more focused on Carol & her mother Hattie's relationship instead of Carol's relationships to the men around her. Hattie's actions do play a large role in the way Carol's life plays out, but only has a minor storyline. I found her to be far more interesting than some of the characters who received more attention.

As you may have seen in other reviews, "hell's heaven" and "pig-shit" are used quite frequently throughout the book. I appreciate the effort to create a western vernacular in the story, but these two phrases were overused to the point of distraction. I wish they would have been broken up with some other phrases.

I liked the resolution of the story, and I thought it was a creative way to tie up the ending. I was always uncertain about how it was going to end, and that curiosity held me throughout the whole book. I thought it was a fun way to handle solving everything.

Bird Box is the only other Josh Malerman book I've read, and he has versatility and creativity as a writer. Bird Box & Unbury Carol are incredibly different stories, and I admire the range of his imagination. I have Black Mad Wheel on my shelf, and hope to read it soon. I will continue to pick up whatever he writes next. Also, I want to say that whoever does the cover designs for his books is amazing. They are always stunning.

Thank you so much to Del Rey for sending early copies to the Night Worms. Unbury Carol will be out on 4/10!
Profile Image for J.D. Barker.
Author 18 books4,936 followers
February 3, 2018
Fantastically clever. A breakneck ride to save a life already lost, proving sometimes death is only the beginning.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,063 reviews1,473 followers
February 13, 2021
Actual rating 2.5/5 stars.

The first time Carol Evers died she was eight-year-old. Her heart rated slowed to three beats per minute, her breath was impossible to detect, and she was unresponsive to the world around her. Days later, she returned.

These brief coma-like states became a regular occurrence and the hidden secret of her life, with only four people ever aware of what she endured. One of these people left her life and two of them left this earth, leaving the third, her husband, as her only confidant. He knew now was his time to strike. The next time Carol Evers died he would make sure it was her last.

This premise was chilling and I assumed suspenseful scenes would litter the text in abundance. Initially, they did. Soon, however, the perspectives began to alter with regularity and the focus ensured this began to feel more like a western novel than one that fell inside of the horror genre. There was nothing inherently bad about this but it did ensure it became unlike the novel I was anticipating. It is a story I am willing to return to, now I am aware of this fact, and to I hope to enjoy it more for what it was, with the benefit of hindsight.
Profile Image for Marianna Neal.
481 reviews2,159 followers
May 18, 2018
3.5 out of 5 stars

Who keeps marking this book as horror?
WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE??! Are we reading the same book???

Let's adjust some expectations here: this is, above all, a Western. Yes, a Western, and also kind of a take on Sleeping Beauty with some minimal magic elements. This is not a thriller, this is not fantasy, and this is DEFINITELY not horror. Also, this is not really about Carol.

OK, now that we got that out of the way, I'm going to try to take my expectations out of this and review this book for what it is. To be honest, I just really am not a big fan of Westerns. I will say that it WAS an interesting setting for a Sleeping Beauty flavored story, but generally speaking the whole outlaw thing just doesn't do much for me. Some of the POV jumping between characters was a bit jarring as well, but I eventually got used to it. I DID find the story itself to be engaging, and I really like Malerman's writing style, especially considering that he's turning out to be a pretty versatile author, but overall this wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I still enjoyed it for the most part, but I think fans of Westerns will get WAY more out of this than me.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,751 reviews696 followers
May 31, 2018
I gave it my best try and read a third before throwing in the towel. This book was just so incredibly not for me. I like weird and dark little stories but this tale about a woman afflicted by a condition where she falls into a death-like state and the dastardly bastard of a man she trusted, who naturally is doing her all kinds of wrong, isn't working for me in any way. The characters are not engaging me and the plot is not interesting to me so I'm calling it quits and starting something else.

I sure hope future Nocturnal Reader's Box picks are more horrorish than this or I'll have to be calling it quits with them too.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,599 reviews637 followers
June 11, 2020
A western with a hint of paranormal?
I'm listening.....

This was a really fun and well paced read.
Fantastic descriptions of the surroundings and the characters all developed nicely...especially Smoke and Dwight.
Enough action and adventure to keep me interested while throwing in some weird sh*t to keep me confused.
I had trouble putting this down.
There was one thing that drove me so bananas that I dropped a star off my rating.
If it were not for this ONE issue this would have been a solid 4 stars.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,765 reviews206 followers
September 13, 2018
3-3.5 stars. Take Sleeping Beauty, transplant it to a Wild West setting, add some outlaws and you should have a interesting story. This story isn’t quite so good, though I did enjoy much of it.
Carol of the title has a condition, where she falls into comas that look a lot like death. She has little warning of their onset, and they can last a few days. She is also aware of sounds while in her comas. There are very few people who know of her condition: her late mother, her recently dead friend John, her former boyfriend, legendary outlaw James Moxie, and her current husband, Dwight Evers.
Dwight wants Carol dead, and when she falls into a coma almost immediately after attending John’s funeral, Dwight takes advantage of the opportunity to take control of Carol’s money. James is notified by Carol’s maid Farrah that Carol is dead, and knows he has to get to Carol before she’s buried.
What follows is essentially the story of James’ journey to Carol, with a view into what Carol is experiencing. Though James has a very limited time to return to the town Carol lives in, the author takes us on what feels like a relatively slow trip back along the trail that connects James’ town to Carol’s. Meanwhile, Dwight has had an outlaw sent to murder James before he can return. The author also has us spend a lot of time with this assassin, who comes off as unhinged and dangerous.
I would not have minded if we had spent less time with the assassin, as I did not want to spend as much time in his head as we did. Unlike traditional Sleeping Beauty, where the woman is utterly passive and well, useless other than to make the Prince look heroic, I did like spending time with Carol in her coma as she struggled to get herself up to save herself. So, an interesting take on the Sleeping Beauty story, with a not totally helpless woman in the story.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,631 followers
April 9, 2018
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/04/09/...

A solid 3.5 star read. Had I been in the right mood, my feelings towards Unbury Carol might have been even more positive, but I had a hard time finding my footing when it came to this book, and I think its peculiar mix of genre elements might have been a contributing factor.

At the center of this story is a woman named Carol Evers, a woman with a very strange condition. Ever since she was a little girl, she has suffered from spells that send her collapsing into a coma-like state, except these comas are virtually indistinguishable from death and they can last for days. During her visits to Howltown—the name young Carol gave to these eerie episodes—she would be awake and aware inside her mind, despite her physical body lying inert. It is her deepest, darkest secret that only a few people other than Carol herself know the truth about, and after the deaths of her mother Hattie and her good friend John Bowie, only two remained. One was her husband, Dwight, an ambitious and conniving man who married Carol for her family’s fortune, and the second person was James Moxie, an old flame of Carol’s who went on to become one of the land’s most notorious outlaws.

However, since the last time Carol saw Moxie was more than twenty years ago, she begins to grow worried that should she lapse into another one of her death-like comas, only Dwight would know the truth of what was really happening to her. Her concerns came a bit too late though, as in fact her husband had been waiting patiently all these years for this exact moment. The next time Carol falls into Howltown, that’s when Dwight decides to strike, carrying out his plot to declare her dead and bury her as quickly as possible, even knowing full well she would be alive. Only through sheer luck does James Moxie manage to catch word of the impending funeral, and knowing what he does about Carol’s condition, it’s a race against time to save his lost love from a terrible fate.

I should have been all over this one: a paranormal Western featuring an outlaw Prince Charming who rides gallantly forth to rescue his Sleeping Beauty? But it actually took several false starts before I was drawn into the story, which opens with a focus on Carol but then over time gradually shifts to focus more on Moxie. The first quarter of the book was also bogged down by abstract descriptions of Howltown, convenient and not-too-convincing plot points, and hasty introductions to the characters that left me feeling neither here nor there about them. On top of this, there were the many flashbacks to contend with, and these would appear erratically throughout the narrative. With Josh Malerman at the helm, I also expected this to be a horror novel, but it’s really not. Instead, it feels more like a mix of dark fantasy combined with the supernatural set in a vaguely historical context with a bit of a Western flavor, but because all of this is so haphazardly thrown together in the intro, I had a tough time pinning down the book’s tone and picturing the setting—at least in the beginning.

Fortunately, things improve once we get into the meat of the story, especially with James Moxie’s chapters coming to the forefront. A lot of important information is also revealed in the later flashback sections, filling in gaps in the characters’ personalities and motivations. There’s also the added factor of Smoke, a shadowy assassin dispatched to stop Moxie before he can reach Carol, as well as the demon-like antagonist known as Rot, who haunts our protagonists and pulls the strings from behind the scenes. Just as Moxie’s chapters held more action and agency than Carol’s, making him a lot more interesting to read about, Smoke and Rot were also more effective villains than Dwight, increasing the plot’s intensity once they entered the picture and the race against the clock got under way.

In the end, it’s Moxie’s adventures on “The Trail” that saved this book for me. Between the cat-and-mouse chase between him and Smoke and the fascinating personalities he meets while on his journey, Unbury Carol finally became something more than just a story about saving a damsel in distress. A part of me still wishes that Malerman had given the book’s titular character a little more power to influence the plot, but nonetheless I became invested in the story once I accepted the new direction.

In truth, Unbury Carol is a lot more than a Weird Western meets a twisted fairytale retelling, but I guess I’ll just go with that for lack of a better description. The story took its time getting off the ground, but personally speaking, sticking with it was an investment that paid off in the end. It certainly hasn’t put me off from reading more of Josh Malerman’s work, and I look forward to checking out more of his books in the future.
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,331 followers
March 8, 2018
Anyone who reads my review knows that I am heads over heels in love with the novels of Josh Malerman. You must believe me when I say I am not being paid to say that. He is that good. His first novel was Bird Box which is the type of horror novel veteran writers would give their non-dominant arm for. The second novel, Mad Black Wheel, is just as good. Now we have his third novel, Unbury Carol and, for reasons to be related soon, it is the most unusual of the three and the most exciting in many ways.

Carol Evers has a very rare condition. She can elapse into a coma at any time which can persist from 2 days to a week. it is so deep that even doctors mistake it for death. The only people alive who know about the condition is her ex-lover outlaw James Moxie and her husband Dwight Evers. When Carol falls into her coma this time, Dwight is prepared to tell all that Carol is dead. He intends to bury her alive in what he sees as the perfect murder. it is up to James to ride to her rescue, a task that will not be made easy since an arson loving hit man is also on his trail.

Unbury Carol is a departure for the author in several ways. Like his last two books, it has clear aspects of horror especially in the segments that depicts Carol's dream-like coma and some vague supernatural aspects. What is perceived as magic and what isn't is a regular theme in the book. But it also threads finely between horror, western, and suspense. The world depicted in the novel is very much that of a Wild West environment and the era of the late 19th century. Yet it isn't really stated as such. The region is essentially a closed system independent of any known references, consisting of two main towns, Carol's Harrows and James' Mackatoon, connected by a route simply known as the Trail. The rest of the towns on the Trail are little more than watering holes and traps of temptations for the traveler. There is a Pilgrim's Progress sense of allegory here. James Moxie is a lost soul haunted by his decision to leave Carol due to her illness. The Trail is his pilgrimage to save Carol and redeem himself. James find both villains and allies on this path but it is Smoke, one of the most evil bad guys I've read about in ages, that dominates the horror of the chase. While James races to get to Carol in time her husband, who is pretty despicable in his own way, attempts to fulfill his "perfect murder" plot despite a mortician and a lawman who senses something isn't right.

On top of all this, we also get an account of Carol's residence in her coma which she calls Howltown. These are the most horrific segments in the novel and probably the segments that will scare most people. Being caught in a coma is terrifying enough but to know you have full conscience and helplessly waiting to wake up six feet under is the stuff most people would rather not think about. Carol's Howltown though, has its own dreads to pile on top of Carol's very real fear of premature burial.

Under a less skillful writer, and presuming it was written as a straight Western genre novel, it still would have been an intriguing idea. But there is something about Malerman's setting and how he employs it that sends it into pure wonder. The author's Wild West world is a fantasy world of his own. There is no real life references to where it is or even to the actual time frame. Most of the action in the novel could be explained by our real world environment but there are hints and actions that tip us off to that not being the case. This hedging of realities gives this novel an uniqueness that I believe most writers would have trouble pulling off. Malerman doesn't just pull it off but shoots it with all barrels out of the park. The other great strength of the book is its characters. The four main character, being Carol, Dwight, James, and Smoke are also incredibly strong and three dimensional. But even the more minor players such as Sheriff Opal, The mortician Manders and an especially hyper but marginally moral Rinaldo becomes essential in this impossible to put down fable.
I use "allegory" and "fable" intentionally for this is what really stays with me. It's about correcting past mistakes and redeeming ones' self and the consequences of ignoring both. It is based on a vaguely familiar world but filled with the type of actions similar to those we have made, regretted and wish to amend. it is also filled with those less admirable character who made evil decisions and are unable or unwilling to recognize them or correct them. Unbury Carol works on so many levels it's almost ridiculous. it can be scary as hell, It is a story of love and redemption, and it is a vastly entertaining western action saga. And this is where those "reasons to be related soon" comes into account. Where Bird Box and Mad Black Wheel were superb horror novels by a creative writer, Unbury Carol shows that he can be unlimited in where his imagination takes him and he can turn what would be a good but conventional idea into something that aggressively gnaws at your imagination.. The idea of Josh Malerman let loose in the literature world is most exhilarating and pleasantly terrifying by itself.
Profile Image for Jamie.
141 reviews23 followers
March 28, 2018
I was fortunate to receive an ARC of Unbury Carol from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. It's no secret that Josh Malerman is one of my favorite authors, and this novel was another 5-star read for me. One of the things I love most about Malerman's writing is that it's difficult to box him into one genre; each of his stories is unique. Unbury Carol is no exception to this fact. Yes, it's a western, but it is so much more. This is a story that deals with love, loss, fear, and guilt, all wrapped up with a supernatural element. The writing flows easily, and had I not wanted to savor the story, I would've finished it much faster than I did. The characters are well-developed. I loved Carol, but also many of the others, such as James Moxie, Sheriff Opal, and Smoke, one of the nastiest outlaws along the trail. I enjoyed the entire story, including the end, which was clever and satisfying. I look forward to purchasing my hardcover edition come publication day, and as always, I eagerly anticipate Josh Malerman's next piece of writing!
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