Unbury Carol: A Book Review

I am so very glad that I chose to engage with my readers and include you guys in deciding what books I read and review. I’ve been exposed to some really amazing books thanks to you, so first, I’d like to say thank you! I’m branching out more than ever and finding some real gems. Like this one! Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman was April’s pick and I dove headfirst into this thriller and held on for a wild ride.

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Carol has a secret. A secret clutched so tightly in fear of what ifs, but will her allowing only a few people in her life to know the truth ultimately cause her death? From time to time, with very little warning, Carol falls into a death-like coma and dwells in a world of darkness where raspy breathing she suspects is her own slowed exhalation is her only companion. She can hear the world around her, but cannot move or speak until she wakes again, days later as if nothing was amiss. Her mother long in her grave, and her best friend newly departed leaves her gold-digging husband as the only person in her life that knows her secret, and when she falls into yet another trip to her inner prison, the opportunity is too much for him to resist. An old lover, the final keeper of Carol’s wicked secret, is notified of her death and races time and the looming gravediggers to halt the unthinkable horror of being buried alive.

This book held many surprises, not just as the plot untwisted to reveal the wholly unexpected ending. A vague setting with a western, post-civil war feel lends to the mystery and plays up the magical realism. The reader is thrust into a world where the towns are small and the Trail that connects them is wild and dangerous, home to the many outlaws who prey on the accepting occupants of a time when the law is lenient and questions thought impolite.

Malerman’s prose is loose and billowy with a casual air that disarms you, making the moments of sharp clarity, the harsh realizations, all the more gutting. You know, and you don’t know how the story will unravel and I found myself gasping, mouth open in surprise anytime I dared think I had it figured out. A backward whodunnit where your exclamations at the players still putting the pieces together are as deaf to you as Carol’s yelling from the darkness, Unbury Carol is a fun and soulfully creepy tale. I found the deranged villains perfectly believable with a toe into unnaturally sinister, a personified voice of the past that cruelly twists doubts into the fissures of the would-be hero’s mind.

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A step toward Stephen King, a Tim Burton dream, this strange and unusual story is utterly creeptastic. Malerman manages to make a two-day quest up a long dirt road feel like the ultimate test of patience and trust as you hope just one of the many threads of spun plot leads to Carol remaining above ground and not clawing for her life under six feet of earth. I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone who likes that prickly feeling of suspense but prefers to skip outright terror.

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