Cover Image: Unbury Carol

Unbury Carol

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Member Reviews

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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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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