Title: Unbury Carol
Author: Josh Malerman
Page Count: 374
This book was a lot of fun, and a nice surprise after Bird Box, which was okay but a little overrated. Malerman is also a reasonably successful musician and when I was reading Bird Box, I thought it felt like a musician writing a book. Here, he feels like a fully-fledged novelist.
Part of the charm here is that as far as I’m aware, it’s never made explicitly clear when the action is taking place. That gave the story a sort of timelessness that reminded me of some of Susan Hill’s ghost stories. It’s also verging on magical realism at times, which is why it’s been compared to Sleeping Beauty.
Essentially, the plot revolves around a woman with a mysterious condition which causes her to go into a coma when she’s under large amounts of stress. When this happens, it’s hard to tell that she’s still alive because her breath doesn’t fog a mirror and she doesn’t have a pulse. At the same time, she’s very aware of what’s happening around her.
Only two people know about her condition, and when one of them dies, that leaves only her husband. The stress of her friend dying pushes her into a coma, and then her husband tells everyone that she’d died for good. There then follows a race against time as Carol’s husband tries to bury her without anyone finding out and an ally or two of hers tries to stop it from happening.
I was actually very impressed by this one, and it’s done a pretty good job of changing my opinion on Malerman’s writing. He stands a pretty good chance of going on to become one of my favourites if he can write more stuff with a “mouth feel” like this one. It’s one of those rare books that’s just a pleasure from start to finish and where the world seems to rise up around you whenever you’re holding it.
It was also made a little more fun because it was a buddy read with Mindy of Mindy’s Book Journey on YouTube, so be sure to go and see what she made of it too.