by Josh Malerman
It’s the end times, people. And if it’s a matter of a creature our brains are incapable of comprehending, then we deserve it.
People begin committing suicide in strange, escalating acts of violence and conspiracy theorists start believing the deaths have something to do with creatures, demons, spirits or aliens they’ve seen immediately before offing themselves. As the world is quickly devoured by the developing phenomenon, our story follows an expectant mother, alternating between a riverboat journey when the children are just a few years old and her experience locked in a house with a handful of others leading up to their births.
While this book is undoubtedly intense, and at some points you’ll find yourselves wanting to close your eyes, too, in the hopes of escaping the horror, further development of the creatures terrorizing the world would have been nice. Part of their effectiveness is that they aren’t fleshed out, like the old Hollywood idea that what you can’t see is more frightening than what you can, but these are such interesting worldwide aberrations it’s a shame we only see them through blindfolds.
Like a number of other recent stories, this one isn’t so much about monsters but about the survival mechanics of a small group attempting to deal with a catastrophically altered planet. Fear is piled on thick, but the heart of the story is still microcosmic interaction—social studies on acid. It’s about 65,000 words and is an excellent read that works great in one sitting, and for the author’s first outing it’s a powerhouse of a story. Bird Box doesn’t quite live up to its incredible promise, but it doesn’t take long heating up, and once you start you won’t want to stop till you’ve crossed the finish line.
Your worries only keep you safe long enough to worry some more.
*artwork from the upcoming Dark Regions Press edition: