Unbury Carol

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I've never read Josh Malerman before but I forsee a few of his books making their way onto my TBR list. A cross between a supernatural western and sleeping beauty. This book was really well done. There was mythology, "magic" and some really creepy characters. Carol has a condition where under stress she lapses into a coma where she appears dead.  Her mother has always feared that she would one day be buried alive and makes sure that Carol always tells someone else about her condition. After her best friend dies the only other person in the town who knows about Carol is her husband, fearing that this isn't good enough Carol decides to confide in her maid but before she can she lapses into a coma. Her husband decides this is his chance to get rid of his wife and keep her fortune for himself. What he doesn't know is that Carol did mention to her maid that her boyfriend from the past, the outlaw James Moxie also knows of Carols condition. When Carol "dies" her maid sends off a telegram to the outlaw and thus begins a race to save Carol. 

There were so many really interesting elements to this book from the characters to the mystery of the "trail".  The mystery kept you on the edge of your seat right up to the bitter end. I really enjoyed this book.
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Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

How dead can you be, and still be alive? Carol Evers can tell you all about it the next time she wakes up.  She can listen with her mind's ear, no one else can hear.  

The Trail, where legends are made, where you can expect tricky lighting, and space that is "off".  Now, throw in Smoke and a mirror.  A sour memory and a lost love.  By the way, I'd advise steering clear of Smoke.  He has a penchant for oil (only the good stuff will do!), and he talks in sing-song rhyme-ish whispers.  A horrifying pair of prosthetics and some weird ass pants, and he's good to go.  

If you are looking for something different, this would fall into that category.
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I thought the premise for this book sounded intriguing. A woman stricken with a condition that puts her into a death like state for several days and a husband who has her buried alive. I love a good suspenseful story but this was more of a slow burn. Things happen pretty quickly and my first thought is I am pretty sure of the ending but not the who, what, when, where and how. The books blurb that sounded so interesting now feels like it gave the whole story away. So I didn’t feel the suspense I was expecting until close to the very end. The books is pretty quick to read but it was not holding my interest as much as I would have liked. So I am basically just waiting for the big trick at the end. I wasn’t expecting a sort of western themed story in a not typical western landscape. I enjoyed the parts of the story along the trail and I especailly liked the bad guy Smoke. He seemed to have the most depth and was the most interesting part of the book. I really enjoyed The Bird Box and I was excited when I saw Malerman has a new book. I went in with high expectations (even though I tried to tell myself not to). So maybe that has skewed my reading experience.
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I got through this pretty quickly but I didn't really click with the story.
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I have met Josh and really enjoyed Bird Box, but I simply could not get into this one. The premise is intriguing but the characters are uninspiring, the atmosphere is vague, and halfway through I still felt as though nothing had happened nor was likely to any time soon.
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This review will be published at thescaryreviews.com and will go live 3/26/18 with no end date.

The era used as the setting of Unbury Carol, the old west (loosely defined), isn’t my favorite. So, I took a chance knowing that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and this time it fell somewhere in between. I thought the story was good, but it didn't grab me quickly. Instead, it was a slow burn that took far more pages than I would typically read before giving up. Initially, I continued ahead wanting to know what the outcome would be for Carol. But soon after, I was no longer interested in her. Carol and her friend Farrow were hard to care for, and I found them to be weak characters and uninteresting.
Carol’s internal dialogue while in her coma was boring and didn’t do much for me. I found the villains far more interesting and these were the characters that kept me engaged. Luckily, I kept reading and the story revealed some rich characters, a great deal of tension, and anxiety for many others, including Dwight and Moxie. The antagonists, Moxie and Smoke, were revealed slowly but with precise details. This gave them an imposing and threatening nature that made them feel real, and their story line was my favorite. I found it frustrating the time it took Moxie to travel the Trail. It felt like there was no urgency to save Carol. In the end, many details and loose ends were tied up nicely. It’s hard for me to recommend this book. I think many people I think will lose interest early on, even though Josh did a great job with the writing and an authentic dialect.
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Thank NetGalley for the ARC for an Author that I have high hopes for. I could spoil much of this book in a scathing review, but I will keep this review simple and spoiler-free. I often have more words to say about a book I don't like compared to the ones I adore. This book is part psychological horror, part path-horror. I define path-horror as our hero being on, in this case, a trail, and they must overcome many horrors and tests along their way to save a central character. In this book, it is Carol who must be saved from her inconvenient disease that causes her psychological trauma. Many things are poorly defined in this book, least of all the ill-conceived disease that continuously kills Carol, the time period that I failed to grasp until several chapters in, and the Trail. The Trail..how long is it? Do only criminals use it? For criminals on the trail, how is it so easy for them to avoid the law?

The book left so many questions unanswered, but at the same time I felt the concepts in it would've been best explored in novella length. Not enough was done in the 380 pages. 

What Josh Malerman does so well is bring in tension. While it was a struggle for me to want to turn each page, there were still many moments where tension was built, and my heart would begin to beat faster.
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I wasn't sure what to expect from a pseudo western themed horror story, but Josh Malerman has created quite a unique novel with an equally unique cast of characters.
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Carol and Dwight Evers were married.  When I read about this book I felt I would like it because I loved the TV show "Forever" that televised in 2014.  The subject of leaving this life only to come back from the dead is interesting.  But when Carol enters a death like coma for up to two days evil is there to take advantage of the situation.  Characters are for the most part evolved through their out of body experiences.  These passages along with slow moving plot left me disappointed in this novel. Action just was not there for the most part except to save Carol from being buried alive.  Minor citizens being made a bigger part of this would have made it more heartfelt. I am a reader that craves dialogue over pages and pages of description and mind dreams. Great idea but not presented dramatically.  "A copy of this book was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via Netgalley with no requirements for a review.  Comments here are my honest opinion."
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DNF at 15%. This one is just not clicking with me at all, and Malerman's latched onto certain words he repeats ad naseum. Every single character, apparently, must utter the phrase "Hell's heaven" in every conversation they have (word search shows 45 instances of this throughout the book). And if I have to be told one more time that John Moxie is an outlaw, I'm going to break my Kindle. Word search shows 150 instances of the word "outlaw" cropping up, and I just don't think I can take it. One section, at the 29% marker, even includes the following bit of dialogue:

"Hell's heaven, Carol... He's on his way here! An outlaw! Hell's heaven, Carol." 

I just... I can't. Not anymore. I'm freaking bored to tears with this one, and it's giving me more aggravation than its worth. I'm also feeling like, at only 15%, a hell of a lot of words have been expended to tell very, very little story. It's frustrating. I give up.
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I believe this is the first western horror story I have ever read and it was quite an entertaining experience.  With a bit of romance, dark humor and a touch of the psychological thriller, Josh Malerman has given readers an engrossing second novel.

What got my attention about the story was the concept of being buried alive.  I remember watching The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as a kid and on one episode a man in prison planned his escape via casket.  Unfortunately, things did not end well for him.

Luckily, Unbury Carol was not quite so dark--at least not at the crucial moment.  The story did have some horrifying events, but I thought the tone had more of a dark humor feel.

Full of wonderful characters, supernatural beings and adventures on the western trail, this will make a great reading choice for any reader loving mystery, horror, westerns or just quirky mixed genres.  There are some violent acts committed in the book and there is one sinister character named Smoke, who is a force of evil to be reckoned with.

Many thanks to NetGally and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine for providing me with an advance copy.
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WARNING: THIS IS GOING TO BE A HOT MESS.

You ready???? Okay . . . . . 

Carol is “dead” – her evil husband (who was TOTALLY Justin LaMonte in my brain). Sidenote (yes already a sidenote): Do y’all know who Justin Lamonte is? Probably not because you’re not ancient, but if you too are old you might remember him as a super douchebag from North and South.  Anyway, Dwight wants to get Carol in the dirt stat so he can have all of her dollah dollah bills yo. Buuuuuuuuut he’s in a race against time as Carol’s former beau was sent a telegram regarding her “death” and is coming to save the day – which again made my brain take a trip on the wayback machine and James Moxie was all Jessie from Kathleen Turner’s novels in Romancing the Stone, but should have probably been more like Clint Eastwood because you kind of get beaten over the head with the fact that he’s an outlaw Josey Wales.

I have to admit I had to give a little bit of the side-eye to that very necessary plot point because would the maid really notify this long-lost love that Carol told her about for like two seconds before eating the dirt and falling into one of her spells/comas/narcoleptic limbos that Carol was dead???? Probably not, but she has to here or there’s zero book.

And that’s my problem with most of the book. Ideas that weren’t fully thought out, characters who REALLY weren’t fully fleshed out and a synopsis that was way more interesting than the end result turned out to be left me feeling seriously meh throughout my entire reading experience. I should have known this might be a miss for me after not only having a bit of a rough go of it with Black Mad Wheel, or as I like to call it . . . . "the hunt for the Brown Noise."  Doubly so when it was pretty clear this story would take place in the Old West which makes me all question-mark face.  However, all I can ever think about when I see Malerman’s name is Bird Box which pretty much results in me being a squeezing fangirl.  

Unbury Carol did not end up being the book for me, but Josh Malerman definitely knows how to words good so as soon as I see his name again I’m sure my reaction will be . . . . GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!!!

Head’s up for any of you who are thinking this is going to be a horror: Prepare yourself because it sure as pig shit isn’t. And speaking of all the talk about pig shit, I say don’t turn it into a drinking game or you will quickly discover a need for your stomach to be pumped.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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What an interesting story. Great, strange characters. But what a terrifying thought that someone would die (slip into comas) and could then be buried alive! Gave me chills thinking about it. Good read although the ending was a little iffy.
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Anyone who reads my review knows that I am heads over heels in love with the novels of Josh Malerman. You must believe me when I say I am not being paid to say that. He is that good. His first novel was Bird Box which is the type of horror novel veteran writers would give their non-dominant arm for. The second novel, Mad Black Wheel, is just as good. Now we have his third novel, Unbury Carol and, for reasons to be related soon, it is the most unusual of the three and the most exciting in many ways.

Carol Evers has a very rare condition. She can elapse into a coma at any time which can persist from 2 days to a week. it is so deep that even doctors mistake it for death. The only people alive who know about the condition is her ex-lover outlaw James Moxie and her husband Dwight Evers. When Carol falls into her coma this time, Dwight is prepared to tell all that Carol is dead. He intends to bury her alive in what he sees as the perfect murder. it is up to James to ride to her rescue, a task that will not be made easy since an arson loving hit man is also on his trail.

Unbury Carol is a departure for the author in several ways. Like his last two books, it has clear aspects of horror especially in the segments that depicts Carol's dream-like coma and some vague supernatural aspects. What is perceived as magic and what isn't is a regular theme in the book. But it also threads finely between horror, western, and suspense. The world depicted in the novel is very much that of a Wild West environment and the era of the late 19th century. Yet it isn't really stated as such. The region is essentially a closed system independent of any known references, consisting of two main towns, Carol's Harrows and James' Mackatoon, connected by a route simply known as the Trail. The rest of the towns on the Trail are little more than watering holes and traps of temptations for the traveler. There is a Pilgrim's Progress sense of allegory here. James Moxie is a lost soul haunted by his decision to leave Carol due to her illness. The Trail is his pilgrimage to save Carol and redeem himself. James find both villains and allies on this path but it is Smoke, one of the most evil bad guys I've read about in ages, that dominates the horror of the chase. While James races to get to Carol in time her husband, who is pretty despicable in his own way, attempts to fulfill his "perfect murder" plot despite a mortician and a lawman who senses something isn't right.

On top of all this, we also get an account of Carol's residence in her coma which she calls Howltown. These are the most horrific segments in the novel and probably the segments that will scare most people. Being caught in a coma is terrifying enough but to know you have full conscience and helplessly waiting to wake up six feet under is the stuff most people would rather not think about. Carol's Howltown though, has its own dreads to pile on top of Carol's very real fear of premature burial.

Under a less skillful writer, and presuming it was written as a straight Western genre novel, it still would have been an intriguing idea. But there is something about Malerman's setting and how he employs it that sends it into pure wonder. The author's Wild West world is a fantasy world of his own. There is no real life references to where it is or even to the actual time frame. Most of the action in the novel could be explained by our real world environment but there are hints and actions that tip us off to that not being the case. This hedging of realities gives this novel an uniqueness that I believe most writers would have trouble pulling off. Malerman doesn't just pull it off but shoots it with all barrels out of the park. The other great strength of the book is its characters. The four main character, being Carol, Dwight, James, and Smoke are also incredibly strong and three dimensional. But even the more minor players such as Sheriff Opal, The mortician Manders and an especially hyper but marginally moral Rinaldo becomes essential in this impossible to put down fable.

I use "allegory" and "fable" intentionally for this is what really stays with me. It's about correcting past mistakes and redeeming ones' self and the consequences of ignoring both. It is based on a vaguely familiar world but filled with the type of actions similar to those we have made, regretted and wish to amend. it is also filled with those less admirable character who made evil decisions and are unable or unwilling to recognize them or correct them. Unbury Carol works on so many levels it's almost ridiculous. it can be scary as hell, It is a story of love and redemption, and it is a vastly entertaining western action saga. And this is where those "reasons to be related soon" comes into account. Where Bird Box and Mad Black Wheel were superb horror novels by a creative writer, Unbury Carol shows that he can be unlimited in where his imagination takes him and he can turn what would be a good but conventional idea into something that aggressively gnaws at your imagination.. The idea of Josh Malerman let loose in the literature world is most exhilarating and pleasantly terrifying by itself.
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A surprisingly basic book for being such a high concept idea. The characters lack individuality. Each person sounds the exact same as the last. I believe this is an issue with the setting of the book. I'm sure this would make a fantastic movie, though, because the writing is only a step above the descriptions you'd find in a script. Very stripped down and quick to a fault.

I didn't care much for the author's debut either, so I'm going to chalk this up to personal preference and stay away from his future books.

In summation: Bland but finishable.
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I absolutely adored this book. The ride along the trail kept me reading page after page. I had nothing short of anxiety finishing the last chapters. Malerman is a fantastic author who has once again produced an addictive book, it’s an added bonus that it’s a western. I highly recommend Unbury Carol to anyone who is a fan of the unknown.
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Coming off such a success such as Bird Box and Mad Black Wheel is a tough challenge. Unbury Carol fails to reach the high standards set by these and other works by Malerman such as Ghastle and Yule and A House at the Bottom of a Lake.
The concept of the book is intriguing. A woman seemingly dies dozens of times through her life. Her husband takes advantage of her deep coma and plots to bury her alive. Hence, Unbury Carol.
Unbury Carol seems like an imitation of a Robert McCammon novel complete with oddball characters, hitmen, and gunslingers.

Malerman is a true talent who has dozens of more great books in him, this just isnt one of them.
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3.5 Outrageously Far-Out Stars.....

UNBURY CAROL is a bizarre story of good vs. evil with a strange mix of....magical  realism....old time west....tricks and tricksters....and even a bit of paranormal when the monster ROT enters the dreaded world Carol calls Howltown.

CAROL's frightening (secret) health condition makes her appear dead as a doornail when she literally falls into a coma, and ALMOST no one knows about it, so....after confidant and best buddy John Bowie dies; Who should she tell?  Who can she really trust?  Her husband?

Get ready for the weirdest of weird as you meet up with a whole slew of oddball characters and progress along the ole trail, including the dangerous and creepy bad guy Smoke who loves a good fire, AND the trail's most legendary trickster of an outlaw, John Moxie, who rushes in to hopefully save the day (and an old flame) from a fate worse than death....being buried alive. (No spoiler here)

UNBURY CAROL - Just a plain old fun read albeit with an ending that could have packed a more powerful punch.  That being said, bring on more Josh Malerman!  I'll gladly read them all! 

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for the ARC COMING April 10, 2018 in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Carol Evers suffers from a bizarre condition: at times of stress, she lapses into a coma that closely resembles death, only she can hear what's going on around her. Now she's in one of her comas and her husband is planning on burying alive. The only man that can save her is a notorious outlaw that ran from her and her condition years ago, James Moxie...

Josh Malerman is all the rage these days. What better way to give him a shot than a Netgalley ARC of his upcoming book!

Unbury Carol takes place in a period not unlike the 1890s. It has a distinctively western feel but I don't think any of the places are real. Carol suffers from a weird condition that makes me think that if he doesn't suffer from sleep paralysis, Josh Malerman has at least read up on it. As someone who suffers the occasional bout of sleep paralysis, that's sure what it reminded me of. Carol calls the dark place she goes to Howltown, since she can only hear the hoarse sound of her own breathing. Creepy, huh?

The story is a race against time, with James Moxie hauling ass from Mackatoon to save his long lost love from being buried alive in Harrows, all the while with a hitman on his trail. It started a little slow but things got pretty hectic. The writing was good but nothing earth-shattering. I'd say the ever-building suspense was the star of the Wild West show.

Dwight Evers was a worm and Smoke was a psychotic arsonist, making for a pair of villains whose hash I couldn't wait to see settled. Moxie was a driven man seeking to put things right before it was too late. Still, Carol was the most interesting character, even though she just laid there, comatose but listening, for most of the book. Carol being helpless but aware made me feel claustrophobic at times. The ending was extremely satisfying. I would have done a "Yes!" with a fist pump but I had a couple sleeping cats to consider.

Unbury Carol was one hell of a gripping read. I'll be reading more Josh Malerman in the future. Four out of five stars.
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It’s never a good idea to go into a book with high expectations. In this case not so much about the book per se, but the author, who seems to have made a name for himself already with two well received literary terrorfests. So it is partly due to preconceived notions, partly due to the book’s western theme (which almost never works for me) and partly due to the story itself that this turned out to be such an underwhelming read. The premise is interesting enough, a woman, Carol obviously, who dies, often. Of course, it isn’t really dying, it’s just a very thorough brief sort of a coma, but given the standards for science back in the day, the two states are practically indistinguishable. Finally her pathetic spouse tired of living in her shadow (both socially and financially) decides to take advantage of the situation and actually bury her (alive) , which sets in motion a local investigation, and sets a former outlaw/ former beau(of course there’s an outlaw)  to…yes, Unbury Carol.  This all takes place practically real time (and paced accordingly) so in a matter of about two days it takes to go from crying Dead to the actual burial. There are all these peripheral characters that get involved, one notably striking one being the arson happy cripple outlaw assassin who cuts a positively cinematic deranged figure. Very memorable psychopath. The cast is actually variegated and interesting and Moxie, the romantic outlaw, is quite a knight in shining something, willing to do whatever it takes for a chance at redeeming himself to the woman he left behind as a young man, frightened of her condition. But the thing is…this would make a great long short story or a novella, dragged out for close to 400 pages, stretched by means of exhaustive details, dream sequences and formatting (the way dialogue works here is great for beefing up page count), this takes away a lot of excitement and dynamic a story might have needed. You kind of have a pretty good idea of how it’ll all play out, standard western rules, and it’s all so very anticlimactic and obvious. After finishing the book, you’re left both tired and wanting more. So maybe not the greatest introduction to Malerman? The talent is obvious, but this wasn’t the fight framing for it, maybe. Thanks Netgalley.
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