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PEARL by Josh Malerman


by Josh Malerman

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-593-23783-0
Publisher: Del Rey

On a small Michigan farm, a freaky, mind-controlling pig named Pearl messes with people's heads—and extracts literal pounds of flesh—to avenge the cruel mistreatment of his species.

Before farmer Walt Kopple acquired Pearl as a piglet, someone cruelly abused one of the animal's eyes. Walt named the pig after discovering a humanlike eye beneath an unsightly flap of skin, which was "like finding a pearl inside a dark clamshell." Walt trained Pearl, who sits like a person, "like he would a child." Through an eerie form of ESP, Pearl learned to manipulate people's thoughts and silently command other pigs. After beheading a pig in a bizarre fit of rage and insisting another pig made him do it, Jeff, the ill-fated Walt's seventh grade grandson, becomes the talk of the town, leading three of his schoolmates to go out to the farm for cheap thrills. Bad mistake. Soon enough, Jeff's brother, their anxious mother—who fled to Brazil after high school to escape her odd premonitions about Pearl—and a pair of cops become part of the mayhem. Though the wild premise of the book is initially hard to take seriously, you quickly surrender to the creepy vibe and the Bird Box (2014) author's ability to keep you guessing. In one great scene, Jeff thinks he is being slowly crushed in a small room by a monstrously expanding pig. Part twisted fairy tale, part animal rights protest, part PTSD drama, and part Triumph the Insult Dog, the novel never runs out of unsettling doors to open.

A strange, un-put-down-able thriller.