Amalia Gavea's Reviews > Unbury Carol

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
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‘’To someone outside the coma [....] I appear...dead. Hardly a heartbeat. Far from fogging a mirror. And a pulse as slow as a slug. There’s no light in there, John. I can hear the world around me, but I can’t move. And the wind in there...it howls. So...Howltown.’’

I’m certain that the people sitting opposite me in the Tube during my commute were absolutely amused, watching my face while I was reading. Shock, anxiety. Heart racing, eyes staring in surprise and disbelief...Because this book by Josh Malerman gave me all the feels. And yes, I’m sounding like a cliché Twitter meme but you will forgive me because Unbury Carol was quite a reading experience. I loved Bird Box but this novel...Jesus, I adored it! Definitely one of the best books of the year. Atmospheric, haunting, lively, full of wonderful characters.

Carol is suffering from a shocking affliction. She falls into days-long comas that resemble little deaths. And yet, she is completely aware of her surroundings during her ‘’sleep’’. Her husband knows of her condition. But there is also another man who knows the truth. An outlaw, a fascinating man who loved Carol, who was loved by her and yet, she left her alone, under the burden of her condition. When Carol faces the ultimate danger, Moxie will have to face a series of threats in order to save her.

‘’There’s a difference between bad and evil [...] Bad is when you ignore the one you love. But evil is when you know exactly what that person wants, what means most to them, and you figure out how to take it away.’’

Malerman places his outstanding story in a dark version of the Wild West and my God, what a scenery he has created! Vivid descriptions of the treacherous Trail, brilliant dialogue, scenes and sequences that send hearts racing. He mixes Magical Realism and Historical Fiction to create a fable of the Sleeping Beauty that is haunting and powerful, full of secrets and questions. Those of us who read Bird Box praised Malerman’s ability to create tension and dread through the presence of the unknown. Well, Unbury Carol is a deeply humane story that deals with our greatest fear: Death.

I have a confession to make. I never trusted people who said ‘’I’m not afraid of death’’. I don’t know, I am probably wrong but it just doesn’t seem right to me. It sounds like a phrase of pretentious bravery, of surrender and despair and I accept none of them. Even the notion of sacrificing your life for a ‘’greater good’’ seems strange to me but this is my cold heart talking. In any case and back to our novel, Death becomes a tangible, dreary, mystic presence. He gambles, trying to win more and more souls to condemn them to rot and be forgotten. But who gives Death the means to do so? If you thought of the word ‘’humans’’, you’d guess correctly. It is the dangerous combination of secrets, fear and guilt that provides Death with the weapon of despair and retreat. And vanity. Carol falls victim of a vain, cruel man and it is up to her mind and soul to find a way out. Literally.

The writing is gloriously good. The atmosphere of the era, the depiction of the Wild West, the interactions of the characters are worthy of an immensely talented writer that knows how to engage the readers without resorting to cheap tricks and mass-market cliches. Malerman creates a Western fairytale of the finest quality, using a dark fable and an array of extraordinary characters.

‘’You let her rot, James. You broke her heart and a better man came and held her ‘cause she was sick...sick, James…’’

This is a rather sinister fellowship. Carol, a brave young woman who gave in to despair by choosing a completely inadequate man. Moxie, an outlaw, a man of secrets and follies, a man who seems to have sprung out of the finest old Western films, a man you cannot help but fall in love with. Opal, a brave protector of the law. Farrah, a faithful, clever companion to Carol. Hattie, Carol’s mother, who taught her to be a survivor. Evans, the devil incarnate. Smoke, a terrifying, hypnotizing, cult figure. And Rot. A presence that will haunt your sleep.

It cannot get any better than that. It really can’t. This novel aimed at my heart (ridiculously bad pun intended) and won it from the very first pages. If you want to read a book that is a fine example of Mystery, Historical Fiction and Magical Realism with questions about the darkness of the human nature, a book free from the awful stereotypes that are smothering the Literature of our times, then Unbury Carol is waiting.

[..] how these days have circled back, like the Trail, in a way, from north to south and then back north again, all a bundle of shadows and unknowns, places without sun, places where things might hide…’’

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
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Reading Progress

November 21, 2018 – Started Reading
December 2, 2018 – Shelved
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: 19th-century
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: american-literature
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: favorites
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: gothic-fiction
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: magical-realism
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: mystery
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: usa
December 2, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Another excellent review Amalia 💖


Amalia Gavea Maureen wrote: "Another excellent review Amalia 💖"

Thank you so much, Maureen!


message 3: by Julie (new)

Julie Terrific review, Amalia! I am intrigued! 😊


Debra Wonderful Review, Amalia! I loved the writing as well!


Amalia Gavea Julie wrote: "Terrific review, Amalia! I am intrigued! 😊"

Thank you so much, Julie! I definitely recommend this one!


Amalia Gavea Debra wrote: "Wonderful Review, Amalia! I loved the writing as well!"

Thank you so much, Debra! It was really superb!


Amalia Gavea Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* wrote: "Brilliant review Amalia. Added it 😎"

Thank you so much, Sandy!


message 9: by Beata (new)

Beata Your splendid review made me put this book on the shelf :)) Thanks, Amalia :))


Amalia Gavea Beata wrote: "Your splendid review made me put this book on the shelf :)) Thanks, Amalia :))"

Thank you so much, Beata!!


message 11: by Phrynne (new)

Phrynne And another one goes on my list!!!
Great review Amalia plus I remember I really enjoyed his earlier book Bird Box.


Amalia Gavea Phrynne wrote: "And another one goes on my list!!!
Great review Amalia plus I remember I really enjoyed his earlier book Bird Box."


Thank you so much, Phrynne! Josh Malerman is definitely an exciting writer.


message 13: by Konstantin (new) - added it

Konstantin Excellently reviewed! I loved Bird Box and the premise of this one seems just as exciting.


message 14: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Tremendous review Amalia! I was scared just reading it. This is going on my list!


Amalia Gavea Konstantin wrote: "Excellently reviewed! I loved Bird Box and the premise of this one seems just as exciting."

Thank you so much, Konstantin! This one had a major impact on me, I am still haunted by it...


Amalia Gavea Beverly wrote: "Tremendous review Amalia! I was scared just reading it. This is going on my list!"

Thank you so much, Beverly!!


message 17: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter A wonderful review Amalia. I wasn't aware of this book but your review has me totally interested in reading it. :):)


Amalia Gavea Peter wrote: "A wonderful review Amalia. I wasn't aware of this book but your review has me totally interested in reading it. :):)"

Thank you so much, Peter!


message 19: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalin Great review, Amalia!


message 20: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle Beautiful review, Amalia! I want a heaping serving of the "feels" this book promises. Thanks for sharing!


Amalia Gavea Paula wrote: "Great review, Amalia!"

Thank you so much, Paula!


Amalia Gavea Michelle wrote: "Beautiful review, Amalia! I want a heaping serving of the "feels" this book promises. Thanks for sharing!"

Thank you so much, Michelle!


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