I'm excited to have guest reviewers this month helping out with the 31 Days of Halloween on MMSAI. Today, on day 24 we have a fantastic review of a book that's perfectly scary and a definite October must-read!
Author: Josh Malerman
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.
Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat--blindfolded--with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?
Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.
“Something is out there”
We, as a species, fear the dark. The unknown. Beyond the safety of our fires and understanding lies dangers we can’t even begin to imagine. Ax wielding maniacs. Prowling predators. Creatures whose mere existences breaks our sanity.
It is this world that Bird Box brings us to.
Malorie and her two young children, referred only as Boy and Girl, have lived in the same house for over four years. The doors are kept locked and bolted at all times. The windows are covered with mattresses, boards, and sheets so every millimeter of the outside world is hidden from view. The children sleep in chicken-wire cages covered with fabric. Blood stains the carpet and walls. Outside, the creatures lurk. Nothing about them is known, except that a single glimpse causes a person to go into a violent, insanity induced rage that ends in murder and suicide. The only defense against the creatures is a blindfold.
And it is here that Malorie and her children make their escape in search of other survivors—by rowing a boat twenty miles downstream, blind.
Bird Box taps into our ancient fear of the unknown in a way few horror novels do. For the most part of the story, we are blindfolded with the characters, forced to imagine what exactly is out there. The story itself interweaves the past and present magnificently, often clueing us into a future danger that the present characters know but the past characters don’t, raising questions about the whereabouts of the group who used to live in the house with Malorie when she was pregnant.
The brilliance of Bird Box is in its simplicity. The entire conflict is outline within the first chapter, but that’s all we need to know. There are creatures out there that have caused the near extinction of our planet merely by the sight of them. Chapter after chapter, we feel the loss and devastation they have caused, the struggle to survive when supplies run low for Malorie and her companions, her drive to protect her children. But Malerman offers a light amidst the pain: hope. That they can survive this; that their bleak existence and suffering can end.