Unbury Carol

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman (Bird Box) is a dark, part-western, part-horror, part-murder mystery. Ever since Carol Evers was a young child, she's suffered from a strange condition, often brought on by stress: she falls into a deep, death-like coma. She's able to hear people around her, smell things and sense touch while in this state. The only signs of life she shows are the faintest breathing and heartbeat, which come so infrequently they are missed by the casual observer.

Very few people know of her condition, so when Carol falls into yet another coma, her conniving husband, Dwight, sets in motion a plot to collect her money. However, when word of Carol's death reaches her former lover Moxie, an outlaw who lives down the Trail, he is sure it is just another coma and races to rescue the woman he once turned his back on.

Malerman has filled this creepy and unsettling tale with many memorable characters. Lafayette is the local witch, Smoke is an evil outlaw and Sheriff Opal is the good lawman who questions everything. The road Moxie must travel, too, is a character in itself, filled with shadows and unseen things that will haunt readers for some time.

The most unsettling aspect of the story, however, are moments narrated by Carol as she remains stuck in her coma-like condition as people act and events proceed around her. It produces an utterly claustrophobic and nightmarish atmosphere.

For those who enjoy horror or westerns, Unbury Carol offers both, wrapped around a love story that extends beyond the living to those who are in a pre-death condition. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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