A memorable, disquieting ghost story about stories, rendered inside a Möbius strip.

THE REMAKING

After a mother and her daughter are murdered, their legacy evolves into a ghost story that haunts generations.

Horror on film is relatively easy: jump scares, gore, the occasional torture porn, and always the final girls. Horror in fiction is a little trickier, but occasionally you get something special like Mark Z. Danielewski’s puzzle box, House of Leaves (2000), John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In (2007), or, more recently, Josh Malerman’s runaway hit Bird Box (2014). Chapman’s (Nothing Untoward, 2017, etc.) spooky story solidly fits the mold of nothing you’ve ever read before. The book is divided into quarters, each entirely original yet always connected and deeply unnerving. The opener finds an old coot recounting the story of a woman named Ella Loise Ford, known to the small town of Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, to be a witch. The men in the town don’t take kindly to this, and in 1931, they set the woman ablaze, along with her young daughter, Jessica, whose resting place would become the legend known as “The Witch Girl’s Grave at Pilot’s Creek.” Jump forward to 1971, and their story is being made into a B-quality horror film directed by an obsessive filmmaker and starring a young ingénue named Amber who discovers these terrifying woods hold much more than just rumors. By the mid-1990s, Amber, now a burned-out, Klonopin-addicted scream queen, takes over the story to recall her role in an ill-fated remake of the cult classic that nearly killed her. By the modern day, there’s yet another shift, as a budding podcaster named Nate Denison tracks down an aged Amber to discover what’s really waiting out there in the woods. Something like Stephen King’s imperfect masterpiece The Shining (1977), this book is not always completely coherent, but it’s a deeply eerie and evocative portrayal of what it’s like to stare into the abyss and find something there waiting for you.

A memorable, disquieting ghost story about stories, rendered inside a Möbius strip.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68369-153-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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