Unbury Carol

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

It's not fair. Bird Box is a masterpiece and Josh Malerman will have a tough time topping that. Unbury Carol is original, dark and suspenseful but it pales in comparison. I was surprised to see that it is a Western. With good and bad outlaws and a damsel in distress. Carol suffers from some kind of catalepsia. During these "comas" she looks dead, but she's not. Being buried alive must be a horrible way to go, and that seems to be in store for her unless she wakes up. Nobody but her evil husband knows that she's alive. Her maid suspects there is something wrong, but she doesn't know the whole truth. Carol's former love, an outlaw who abandoned her in the past, is rushing to save her, but many enemies are trying to stop him. The characters use anachronistic language (psycho?), and they are more caricatures and stereotypes of the classic western. Still, it is extremely suspenseful and a final twist rounds the plot wonderfully.
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I requested to review this book because I just adored Bird Box, but it also sounded unique (just like Bird Box). I was not disappointed. Apparently, I am a Josh Malerman fan.

The book begins with Carol and his husband, Dwight, at the funeral of Carol's friend, John Bowie. John is the only person outside of the couple who knew about Carol's "condition," and Carol is concerned that should she go under and something happens to Dwight, she might be in trouble. Carol's "condition" is unique - she goes into a coma for a short period of time, whereupon her heart and breathing slow to the point where a less-than-observant doctor could very well declare her dead. She can hear everything going on around her, but can't move although she feels as though she is falling the entire time. How terrifying! She refers to it as Howltown, as she hears a "wind" blowing. After returning from John's funeral, she is arguing with Dwight about telling the maid, Farrah, about it. Before telling Farrah about her condition but after mentioning a youthful liason with the outlaw James Moxie, Carol falls into the coma. But things are different this time - Dwight pretends that this time, she is dead.

Dwight, and his confidant Lafayette, put into work a plan to keep Carol "dead." But the plan has lots of holes, as Carol only stays in the state for 2-4 days. First Farrah notifies James Moxie of her "death." When Moxie returns the telegram stating that she is not dead, Dwight intercepts it. So an assassin is dispatched to stop him from reaching town. But not just any assassin. Smoke is a mentally unstable crippled killer, both legs having been severed by his previous outlaw accomplices. The undertaker becomes suspicious as the doctor stating Carol's cause of death seems to not exist and visits the sheriff. The sheriff can't see where anything is wrong, but just knows something is. Then Dwight is worried about the assassin and has someone follow the crazy Smoke. Also working for Dwight is an entity known only as Rot, who appears at the most inopportune times. Not quite sure what or who he is, except he is not good.

Dwight is a horrible, despicable man. He talks to Carol like she's still alive and listening (because she is), all the while pretending to be the grieving widow and pushing to get her funeral done as soon as possible so she won't get up before she's buried. I just really wanted something bad to happen to him. Something very, very bad. I liked James Moxie very much. Not just a former outlaw, he is something of a legend because of a trick pulled years ago that established his name. He has since retired, but as soon as he gets the telegram, he flees to the Trail to set Carol free. I also really liked Farrah. Much of what she did took courage, as she was just a simple housegirl. But she had no problem contacting Moxie, nor speaking about her suspicions of Dwight to the sheriff. And what she did near the end...

Unbury Carol is almost a western, almost a fantasy, almost horror. All I can tell for sure is that it's an enjoyable ride through another time and place, and well worth it. An incredibly entertaining read.
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I was excited to try this having heard good things about the author but try as I might I could not slip into this story despite several attempts.
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Wow. After I read Bird Box I wanted something that would stand up to it. And this book did it! Intriguing, mindprovoking, stunning. I recommend this book to anyone who likes the genre!
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Overall,  this is a wonderfully written book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  What Josh Malerman has done is blend different genres and created his own.  There were some plot points that annoyed me but not every book is for every reader.  I'm a big fan of Malerman's and I can't wait to to see what he comes up with next.  He is a gift to the horror genre.
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I adored Bird Box and recommend it to everyone I know who's looking for a good horror novel, so I was very excited when I had a chance to read an ARC of Josh Malerman's latest book. It was...not what I expected. It was a western? But not set in the Old West? With magic? Or not? You were pretty much dropped into the world of the book and forced to fend for yourself which worked for me in Bird Box but not so much here. 

I will give it this: I came back and kept reading. I cared about the plot and its progression, but I didn't particularly give a hoot about any of the characters. And the deus ex machina ending to Carol's predicament was frankly something of a disappointment. I would recommend this to a reader who's looking for a western that's a bit out there, but I'm not sure how many of those readers I'm going to come across! All I know is that I definitely wasn't one.
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Quick. Think of a genre... any genre. And it's most likely included here in Unbury Carol. Mystery. Murder. Horror. Western. Fantasy. Action. A touch of romance. It's a unique mix that is something I've never quite read before.

Carol suffers from a sickness that causes her to pass out but remains conscious while she is incapacitated for days at a time. She keeps this condition to herself and close friends for fear of what others would do or think if they knew. Upon the passing of her close friend and confidant, she is preparing to tell her maid of the sickness seeing as only her husband knows. But, before she can, she falls into another coma leaving her husband able to put into motion a plan to pretend she is dead, bury her and take sole possession of her fortune. Little did he know that one other living person knew of Carol's secret, her old beau, now a famous outlaw.

Unbury Carol is a slow burn across many miles and days to see if Carol can be saved before she is buried alive. Can she manage to wake herself in her coma? Will her fellow townspeople put the pieces together before it is too late? Will her old friend make it before she runs out of air or will the crazed Smoke get to him first? 

While at times the story started to drag a bit too much for me I thought that the novel was engaging as a whole and definitely took a unique approach to this story. I was worried for a while about this being a standard story of a man coming to save the girl but Malerman does enough to push this unique book into a new direction and keep it fresh.
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I loved Malerman's Bird Box, and I was very excited for his new book. However, I just don't think this was my cup of tea. Carol Evers is beloved and wealthy woman with a strange condition. Sometimes she goes into a death-like coma, but she always wakes up a few days later. Fearful of what others might think or do to her, Carol only shares her secret with her husband and close friend. After her friend dies, Carol suddenly goes into another coma. Now that he is the only one who knows Carol is alive, her husband arranges for her funeral. He plans to bury Carol while she is comatose, and take all of her money. However, there is one more person who knows about Carol's condition, but he is a famous outlaw that loved Carol 20 years ago. Can he get to Carol in time? Does he still care enough to save her?

I truly wanted to love this book. It sounded very interesting and unique, but the characters were bland and hard to connect with. The plot was basically the damsel in distress trope with a few supernatural elements thrown in. Some things just weren't explained well. For the most part, I was just bored. I think many people will love this novel, and I do tip my hat to Malerman's imagination, but it just was not the right book for me. Despite that, I would not be opposed to trying it again at a later date.
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Summary: Carol has a condition which causes her to fall into a coma where her vitals are barely perceptible. There are only two people that understand her condition.

What I liked: I liked the story so much. The characters (even the bad guys/gals) were richly written and fleshed out. There were multiple storylines that Malerman didn't leave hanging and where finished with an expert flourish. I love the world that Malerman has created and would definitely read more books based in that world. There is a creepy aspect to the world that I can't really put my finger on.

What I didn't like: Nothing absolutely nothing. There is no pig-shit in this book.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: This is the first book of Malermans that I have read. I really enjoyed it and will be buying it when it is released. It was unique and well paced. Malerman is a great story teller and I see some other book purchases in my future.
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Somehow I missed this was a western, which I definitely don't read, but I was captivated by Bird Box, so I'll read anything Josh Malerman cares to write. 

As with Bird Box, the author has once again created an original premise, but in this book, Carol loses all senses except hearing.  She's completely helpless, but knows exactly what's happening to her.  And as a claustrophobic, the thought of being buried alive and unable to move is utterly terrifying.  Dwight is narcissistic, selfish, spineless, and you just want to see him get what's coming to him.  But with Smoke, Malerman has created a totally unhinged, evil lunatic, and he adds just the right touch of wickedness.  

Although the beginning was a little slow-paced for my taste, the story galloped rapidly at the end and I couldn't tear myself away until reading the last word.  Not being a western fan, I didn't feel like this leaned heavily on that genre, but the atmosphere was still there, along with the horror/thriller elements.  Unique, clever, chilling, and highly recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.
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What a great story!  Unbury Carol is a Western tale, mixed with a little paranormal/fantasy, and it has everything you could want - good vs evil, love and friendship, regret and atonement, all wrapped up in a very creative story that's hard to put down.  The writing is excellent, so much so that I actually cringed every time the evil character Smoke entered the story, dreading what he was going to do next.  I liked this book a lot, and will be looking for more by Josh Malerman. Many thanks to Netgalley and Random House/Ballantine/Del Rey for introducing me to such an inventive author!
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I love this book. Almost more than the Birdbox. Highley recommended!
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I find it hard to describe "Unbury Carol".  The best I can think of is Western Fantasy/Horror.  I thought it was a unique story but that fit right in with the other story's that Malerman has written.   I found the speech the characters used a bit awkward but at the same time it fit the story.  I wasn't sure how I felt about the Rot character and how he actually fit, what he represented and if he was physical or just in their mind. I did think the remaining characters where well done both those I liked and those I did not.  There were a few spots it made me think of something else I had read, but at this time I cannot remember what.  I like the twist at the end that Hattie had supplied and had not seen that coming.  It was an engaging and quick read. Looking forward to his next.
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This is my first Western type book and I have to say I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, mixing the classic tropes of the West with outlaws and duels with a bit of a paranormal element worked to create a story that deals with love, betrayal and redemption. 

“Unbury Carol” begins with a funeral and the revelation of an illness that mimics death with a husband all to eager to use it to his advantage and ride himself of a wife he was too well loved, independent and proud to need him in the way he deserved, and the money he’d inherit wouldn’t hurt either. The contrast to Carol’s husband is that of the infamous outlaw James Moxie, a first love who hears of her tragic end and rides as fast as he can to save her before she’s buried alive dealing with his past regrets, an assassin and a personification of death known as Rot that’s hellbent on keeping him away. 

At first I wasn’t sure what the relevance of Rot as the motivations behind his actions and obsession with Moxie weren’t all that clear but once we reach the end and we see why he’s so invested and going out of his way to keep things as they are I was not disappointed. There’s nothing creepier than the idea of being buried alive or even trapped within ones body while aware what’s going on around you yet unable to move or speak and the fact that it’s something Carol dealt with since she was a child. Her strength and determination to survive despite her circumstances were great to read as she is essentially helpless and relying on those around her to help and when all else fails she has to try and figure it out herself with a little gift from her past. 

I really enjoyed this, it’s a fast read and plays out a bit like a good movie where you find yourself hoping the hero makes it in time and can outsmart the ‘black hat’ hitman fast on his trail and above all else you sit in there edge of your seat wondering if Carol can cheat death once and for all. 

**thank you to the publishers and netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**
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Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman is a strange, macabre novel that combines horror, fantasy and western in a completely satisfying way.
Unbury Carol is Josh Malerman’s third novel and so far he is three out of three when it comes to writing fantastic horror with great emotional depth.  Following Bird Box (2014) and Black Mad Wheel (2017), Unbury Carol might be his best so far.  Carol Evers is a woman who suffers from a mysterious illness that causes her to fall into comas so deep that she appears dead.  During one such coma, Carol’s husband decides that it’s a perfect opportunity to get rid of her for good.  Carol’s former lover, and current outlaw, James Moxie learns that Carol is to be interred and he must race to stop her from being buried alive.  The novel is set in the fictional Ucatanani and Miskaloosa counties along what is known as The Trail, a wild route through dangerous forest and raucous towns.  The world resembles in many ways a traditional western setting, but with some frightening differences.  This novel is really about guilt and fear.  About how fear can make you do things you’ll regret.  About how guilt can be both motivating and destructive.  Many of the characters in this novel are fighting against their emotions, whether it’s guilt or fear, as much as they’re fighting against each other.  This novel also has some great villains including a man with tin legs and a penchant for burning things, though many people are most disturbed by his lack of hat.
Overall, Unbury Carol is a fantastic twist on a classic western and I can’t wait to see what Malerman does next.
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Had a more difficult time following and understanding this one. Still a good read, but...complicated.
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I actually own Bird Box and am still interested in reading it. I've really been looking forward to Unbury Carol because it seemed very much like the sort of strange book I enjoy. I am, however, not finishing at 7%. It feels like the author expects I'll want to keep reading based solely on the concept. But there wasn't anything, before her coma, to make me care a whit about Carol, thus I didn't really care whether she was buried alive or not. Writing and plot seemed scattered and barely coherent. Just did not work for me. I'm not rating on GR or writing a review for my site because 7% isn't a fair enough read to write a negative review.
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I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Unfortunately this was not a book I would highly recommend. It seems to be set in America in the early days of our country. It had  a somewhat Western Fiction feel to it. I just could not be engaged by any of these characters. I found the pace slow, the characters flat and the story line just couldn't keep my interest. I'm sure there is an audience for these types of stories but I'm just not one of them.
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This book was just "all right" for me.  The story was very unusual and I really think that several readers are going to absolutely love this story.

My thanks to Netgalley and Del Rey Publishing for this advanced readers copy.
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3.5 stars, I rounded up.

I received an ARC from NetGalley.

Westerns aren't normally my thing, but the idea of a person kinda-sorta dying (Carol enters a coma-like state for a few days before waking back up) repeatedly got me interested. Thankfully, Malerman has a fine way with words, or else I would've given up. Most of the book is not about Carol. Rather, the focus is on her husband Dwight, who is trying to bury her, her ex-lover and famed outlaw James, who is riding his old horse as fast as possible to save Carol, and Smoke, the nasty assassin hired to take out James.

All of those men, and Carol as well, exhibit some mental instability, ranging from mild to wow-you've-totally-lost-touch-with-reality. I didn't expect that, nor did I expect this to be used as a plot device to stall the character's progress.

Despite all the weirdness and my expectations being thrown, I enjoyed the book. Reading the same old fluff gets tiresome, and this was certainly different. I'll recommend my library to purchase it.
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