The Bram Stoker Award–nominated author of Bird Box returns with a haunting tale of love, redemption, and murder.
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.
The haunting story of a woman literally bringing herself back from the dead, Unbury Carol is a twisted take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Advance praise for Unbury Carol
“Breathtaking and menacing . . . an intricately plotted, lyrical page-turner about love, betrayal, revenge, and the primal fear of being buried alive.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Unbury Carol is a Poe story set in the weird West we all carry inside us, and it not only hits the ground running, it digs into that ground, too. About six wonderful feet.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels
“Bleakly lyrical à la Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“With vivid prose and characters that leap off the page, guns a-blazing, Unbury Carol creates its own lingering legend, dragging you along like an obstinate horse toward a righteous storm of an ending.”—Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Phasma
“This one haunts you for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. . . . Malerman is too fierce an original to allow anyone else’s visions to intrude on his. [He] defies categories and comparisons with other writers.”—Kirkus Reviews
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Josh Malerman is an internationally bestselling, Bram Stoker Award–nominated American author and the lead singer for the rock band The High Strung. Malerman first started writing in the fifth grade, with stories of a space-traveling dog. Since then he has written several unpublished novels, and his debut novel, Bird Box, was published in the United States and the United Kingdom to much critical acclaim.
Read an Excerpt
AT THE FUNERAL OF JOHN BOWIE
Excerpted from "Unbury Carol"
Copyright © 2019 Josh Malerman.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . This book was an odd wonderful mix of western, fantasy, and magical realism with a dash or two of creepiness thrown in. The story involves a woman named Carol who "dies" frequently and yet always has awakened. These deaths take the form of a coma where she appears to be dead but is instead transported into another place where she has the sensation of continuously falling, can't move, can't see, and yet can hear the conversations around her. She never knows how long these spells will last and has kept the condition a secret from everyone in her present and past except for her long-dead mother, her husband, and her recently deceased best friend. With only her husband remaining, she goes into a coma only to realize that her husband has no intention of letting her come back to life. He declares her dead and Carol has no hope. Or so she thinks. But there was one other person who knew her secret long ago and ran away out of fear . . . There are many aspects of the story that I loved. The setting was an enormous forest with one trail that is a menace to all travelers. The trail begins at one town and leads to series of others on a path, which eventually ends at another town far south. There is seemingly no other outlet to the outside world. These settlements feel like western towns complete with saloons, general stores, brothels, and lots of outlaws. Of course there are the other more genteel members of the towns with money as well. Carol being one of them. The outlaws are the absolute fun of the novel. There is the notorious "magical" outlaw, James Moxie, who has been retired from the trail and is on a mission to redeem himself. There is the delightfully insane outlaw, Smoke, who has been hired to stop him and has definitely earned his name. There are several others who have individual quirks and fun perspectives. I very much enjoyed all of their viewpoints. There also be perspectives from Carol, her jerk of a husband, the sheriff, and others. The novel takes place over the course of a couple of days and is mixture of quiet thoughtful sections and outlaw action vignettes. The downside of the novel for me was that Carol is almost a non-entity in the story due to being "dead." It's not her fault and makes sense in the novel but I would have liked for some true action from her. I also didn't love the conclusion of the novel. I did like the otherworldly elements and the lack of many good explanations though I can see how others wouldn't. I am glad I read this hard-to-define zany novel and will be trying others by the author for sure.
First off, thanks to the publisher and author for an advanced reading copy of Unbury Carol in exchange for an honest review. Hell’s Heaven this was an interesting read and I’ll pigshit you not, these two (2) phrases are used quite a bit throughout. Think of it not really as a horror novel, but more of a weird western with some ‘true grit’. A novel where the girl on the cover isn’t really the emphasis of the story, but it is the cast of characters surrounding her condition and their motivations that shine through the oil and smoke. Carol Evers has an interesting condition. Think of her as sleeping beauty with the ability to wake up after a few days without the need of a kiss from a handsome prince. While she is in this comatose state, the world around her continues on at its normal pace, and all she feels is the constant sensation of falling…falling…falling. Unlucky for her, only a couple of people know about her condition; one of them has just died and another is out of state and out of mind, mostly. Lucky for her husband, Dwight, Carol has just gone under and the only person in town that knows she is still alive is him. What awaits him is a promised land of riches. What awaits Carol is six feet of dirt and only hours of oxygen. Malerman is the author of one of my favorite novels, Bird Box, which just so happened to be one of my Top Reads of 2017 and is being made into a film on Netflix. It releases on December 21st, 2018 and stars Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, and John Malkovich, among others. To be honest, Bird Box put Malerman on my ‘must-read’ list for all future releases because it was just THAT GOOD, so I was happy to get a copy of Unbury Carol for review. Though it is vastly different, being in a western setting vs that of a post-apocalyptic, we do get another strong female character as our main protagonist and the writer does a fine job of instantly connecting her with the reader. What really drives the interest in the novel is the character development of our villains and “prince charming”, if you will. Seeing all of the events unfold from these different vantage points adds so much dramatic tension and excitement to the novel, but also to the world in which Carol is rarely ever apart of throughout the story. Also, I really enjoyed the development of ‘The Trail’ which does give us a little bit of world-building along our journey. To be honest, my favorite part out of everything was the main villain, Smoke. His character arc has to be one of the finest I’ve seen in a while and his tunes will forever live in the back of my mind. Overall, if you are a fan of Malerman, you’ll more than likely pick up a copy of Unbury Carol; but I urge those of you who like your fiction a little on the weird or western side of things to give it a shot. The author truly knows how to create interesting worlds and characters and I for one cannot wait to see what’s next.
Josh Malerman's first novel, Bird Box, is one of my favourite audio books. His latest release is Unbury Carol. At times of stress, Carol goes into such a deep coma that she appears to be dead. She finds herself in a place she has dubbed 'Howltown'. Carol's greatest fear is that she will go into a coma and no one will realize that she is still alive. With the death of her mother, there are only two people who know about her condition - her husband Dwight and her long ago lover, the outlaw James Moxie. And Dwight has just decided that he doesn't need a wife any longer, just her money. When the next coma occurs, Dwight declares her dead. The dark, what might happen in the dark, and what might be hiding in the dark have been a constant in the three books I've read of Malerman's. This latest addresses a classic fear - being buried alive. Along with the something else that wants Carol dead... Malerman has set Unbury Carol in an Western setting. I'm not sure if it's past or future as there are references to an 'Illness' sweeping through. But, this setting is absolutely perfect for this tale. Townsfolk, a sheriff who is willing to ask quiet questions, a dangerous trail populated by outlaws, an evil witchy woman, a deranged killer named Smoke and the outlaw James Moxie. Yep, he's the one you'll be urging onward. Will he get to Carol in time? Malerman is known as a horror author, having been nominated for the Bram Stoker award. But, for me, his work is hard to slot into a predefined genre. His plotting is unusual and his premise and setting are unique. I had no idea where the book was going to take me. (Although, the publisher's descriptive phrase "Unbury Carol feels like Cormac McCarthy rewriting Sleeping Beauty" is pretty darn good.) Yep, it's a love story as well. I enjoyed the multiple points of view in Unbury Carol. We get to know many characters, including some minor ones and I felt more immersed in the story with so many perspectives to draw on. The ending is satisfying, but leaves a question with the reader. I know what I want to transpire - I hope it does! Another great read from Malerman.
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 the monster ROT enters the dreaded world Carol calls Howltown. CAROL's frightening (secret) 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 really 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 to hopefully 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!
I am drawn to books that twist the rules of life and death. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, and now Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman feature protagonists living lives where death is not necessarily the end. In this Western / Paranormal hybrid, Carol Evers suffers from a condition in which at any moment she involuntarily slips into a coma that mimics death. Then she reawakens, sometimes days later, as if nothing had occurred. Within the coma, she free falls paralyzed through a bottomless black void that she calls Howltown, but she is also mentally conscious, able to hear what is happening around her seemingly dead body. Two people know of Carol’s condition. Her husband Dwight, a man seeking freedom from his wife’s shadow, and a former love, the outlaw James Moxie. When Carol once again “dies”, her husband carries out a nefarious plan, while Moxie returns from afar to ensure she wakes again. This book is really a cat-and-mouse game between Moxie and a crazed pyromaniac triggerman, Smoke, hired to eliminate him along the Trail before he can return to Carol’s side. Thrown into the mix is Rot, a spiritual manifestation of grief, regret, and death who taunts several characters along the way. While I enjoyed the story Malerman tells, I would have much preferred the storytelling lens focus on Carol, her relationship with her mother Hattie, and how she has navigated life with her condition. Carol, the book’s namesake, is unfortunately little more than a side note to the story of the men surrounding her. She spends a majority of the book “dead” being moved here and there and everywhere and free-falling through Howltown. Carol in the spotlight would have changed this story dramatically for the better. Unbury Carol is an interesting and entertaining addition to Malerman’s library, but Bird Box will remain his finest. Thank you to Random House / Del Rey, NetGalley, and Josh Malerman for providing me an advanced digital copy for my review
This is one of the more bizarre books I have read recently. It is set in an alternate past similar to the American Old West. Carol Evers suffers from a rare disease that puts her into a coma deep enough that it mimics death. Unfortunately for her, the only people who know of this condition are either dead (her close friend), far away (her former lover, the outlaw James Moxie) and her husband Dwight, who wants her buried before she awakens so he can get her fortune. Early in the story, Carol falls into the coma and the rest of the book revolves around Dwight's attempts to get her buried and keep her condition a secret along with Moxie's long trip from his home to where Carol is sleeping. Moxie is riding along the Trail, a mysterious route populated mostly by outlaws and neer-do-wells, while being trailed by a particularly nasty triggerman who goes by the name of "Smoke." Smoke lost his lower legs in a fight and now wears a set of mechanical appendages that use oil. Smoke also uses the oil to burn things, and people, his killing method of choice. This book grew on me big time as I read. The villains are so deliciously evil that you can't help but want to know more about them, and there are a lot of them. The villain who starts out as the worst of them all, James Moxie, turns out to be not as bad as I originally thought. I wound up rooting for him through his journey. Does Carol survive or does she wind up buried alive? I won't tell. You need to read the book to find out.. It is well worth your time.
The book begins with Carol and her husband, Dwight, at the funeral of Carol's friend, John Bowie. John is the only person outside of the couple who knew about Carol's "condition," and Carol is concerned that should she go under and something happens to Dwight, she might be in trouble. Carol's "condition" is unique - she goes into a coma for a short period of time, whereupon her heart and breathing slow to the point where a less-than-observant doctor could very well declare her dead. She can hear everything going on around her, but can't move although she feels as though she is falling the entire time. How terrifying! She refers to it as Howltown, as she hears a "wind" blowing. After returning from John's funeral, she is arguing with Dwight about telling the maid, Farrah, about it. Before telling Farrah about her condition but after mentioning a youthful liason with the outlaw James Moxie, Carol falls into the coma. But things are different this time - Dwight pretends that this time, she is dead. Dwight, and his confidant Lafayette, put into work a plan to keep Carol "dead." But the plan has lots of holes. To start with, Carol only stays in the state for 2-4 days so she must be buried quickly. Then Farrah notifies James Moxie of her "death." When Moxie returns the telegram stating that she is not dead, Dwight intercepts it. So an assassin is dispatched to stop him from reaching town. But not just any assassin. Smoke is a mentally unstable crippled killer, both legs having been severed by his previous outlaw accomplices. The undertaker becomes suspicious and visits the sheriff as the doctor stating Carol's cause of death seems to not exist. The sheriff can't see where anything is wrong, but just knows something is. Then Dwight is worried about the assassin and has someone follow the crazy Smoke. Also working for Dwight is an entity known only as Rot, who appears at the most inopportune times. Not quite sure what or who he is, except he is not good. Dwight is a horrible, despicable man. He talks to Carol like she's still alive and listening (because she is), all the while pretending to be the grieving widow and pushing to get her funeral done as soon as possible so she won't get up before she's buried. I just really wanted something bad to happen to him. Something very, very bad. I liked James Moxie very much. Not just a former outlaw, he is something of a legend because of a trick pulled years ago that established his name. He has since retired, but as soon as he gets the telegram, he flees to the Trail to set Carol free. I also really liked Farrah. Much of what she did took courage, as she was just a simple housegirl. But she had no problem contacting Moxie, nor speaking about her suspicions of Dwight to the sheriff. And what she did near the end... Unbury Carol is almost a western, almost a fantasy, almost horror. All I can tell for sure is that it's an enjoyable ride through another time and place, and well worth it. An incredibly entertaining read.
Carol and Dwight Evers were married. When I read about this book I felt I would like it because I loved the TV show "Forever" that televised in 2014. The subject of leaving this life only to come back from the dead is interesting. But when Carol enters a death like coma for up to two days evil is there to take advantage of the situation. Characters are for the most part evolved through their out of body experiences. These passages along with slow moving plot left me disappointed in this novel. Action just was not there for the most part except to save Carol from being buried alive. Minor citizens being made a bigger part of this would have made it more heartfelt. I am a reader that craves dialogue over pages and pages of description and mind dreams. Great idea but not presented dramatically. "A copy of this book was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
Somehow I missed this was a western, which I definitely don't read, but I was captivated by Bird Box, so I'll read anything Josh Malerman cares to write. As with Bird Box, the author has once again created an original premise, but in this book, Carol loses all senses except hearing. She's completely helpless, but knows exactly what's happening to her. And as a claustrophobic, the thought of being buried alive and unable to move is utterly terrifying. Dwight is narcissistic, selfish, spineless, and you just want to see him get what's coming to him. But with Smoke, Malerman has created a totally unhinged, evil lunatic, and he adds just the right touch of wickedness. Although the beginning was a little slow-paced for my taste, the story galloped rapidly at the end and I couldn't tear myself away until reading the last word. Not being a western fan, I didn't feel like this leaned heavily on that genre, but the atmosphere was still there, along with the horror/thriller elements. Unique, clever, chilling, and highly recommended. Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.