Cover Image: The Pallbearers Club

The Pallbearers Club

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The Pallbearer’s Club was masterfully written to sound like the rambling memoir of an inexperienced, mentally-ill author. The story follows “Art” through many years, with commentary from his sometimes friend, sometimes enemy “Mercy,” weaving through timelines, leaving the reader wondering how much of either side is true.
Was this review helpful?
struggling coz it was so slow but catches up and slow. Might try again when it gets published maybe there would be some editing done
Was this review helpful?
I was very excited when I got an advance copy of this book to review. I have read and enjoyed everything Tremblay has written. Until now. I think this is a book one will either love or be disappointed in. Unfortunately, I'm in the latter camp.

Written as a memoir by a fictional Art Barbara and read in manuscript form by his friend Mercy Brown with margin notes by Mercy, this follows Art from awkward teen in the late 1980s, through college to present day.  

Art first meets Mercy when he forms the Pallbearers Club in high school. The goal of the club, that consists of only he and Mercy, is to attend funerals for friendless strangers in hopes this will help with his extracurricular activities on his college applications. From the beginning, Mercy is an oddball character of an indeterminate age obsessed with taking pictures with her Polaroid camera. That and punk music which she gets Art so involved with that he eventually joins bands in college. Mercy is an enigma in Art's life. Convinced she is a vampire, his memoir often focuses on Mercy and leaves it up to the reader to decide for themselves if she is a modern day vampire or just an odd person.

I liked the storytelling format of the book--from Art's rather pretentious writing style to Mercy's often snarky comments in the margins. Their friendship is genuine with two misfits bonding over punk music. What I found distracting was the extent that punk music was a dominate theme throughout the book. Admittedly I was never a punk or grunge fan so that is a problem for me; a lot of this book went over my head. I think a number of people will "get" this book and love is. Some, like me, won't. 

Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow for an advance copy of this book. the publication date is July 5, 2022.
Was this review helpful?
I was so excited to get this book. Unfortunately, it isn't available on Kindle( size issues), so I downloaded it to my Bluefire app. It has the circle of death between every page making it unreadable. I have never given any of Paul Tremblay's books less than 4 stars, and I won't now. I will update my review after I get a copy on publication day. I am just posting this here so other people know about the potential issue. If you have a workaround or an app that works better( I tried all of the suggestions from NetGalley support), enjoy your early copy!
Was this review helpful?
The Pallbearers Club was one of my most sought after books for the year and let me tell you, it was not easy to get my hands on a copy. 

When I saw the Facebook post stating for a limited time, William Morrow, was going to allow readers to read and review before the big release, I RAN to fill out the form. 

YES! I was just one step closer. Unfortunately, I could not convert this Mobi to my Kindle. So after enlisting a professional "computer guy", I finally had the book of my dreams in my hand and I was ready to go. 

It was worth it. 

It was worth every obstacle that was placed in front of me and more. I am at a loss for words when it comes to The Pallbearers Club. Who are you Paul Tremblay, and where have you been my whole life? 

Talk about originality?!?! You will never read anything that comes close to all that The Pallbearers Club holds. This book has bestseller written all over it and is sure to break the internet this summer. The hype that surrounded this book the past couple of months does not even come close to what this book deserves. 

If you are looking for a book that is expertly narrated and character driven, The Pallbearers club is for you. This book checks off every single box and then some. I can not rave enough or recommend this book anymore. I will forever suggest this book to all my book loving pals! 

Congratulations Paul Tremblay, you deserve every bit of success headed your way and I can not wait to see what you come up with next. 

Big thank you to William Morrow, Paul Tremblay and Netgalley, for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The fun of a Paul Tremblay book is figuring out, bit by bit, exactly what kind of story you're reading. It's always SOMETHING - a ghost story, a demonic exorcism tale, an apocalypse narrative - and yet, it's also always... different. Unexpected. Because one of the many things Tremblay excels at is taking a well-worn trope or genre and then turning it, spinning it into something new.

The same is true of The Pallbearer's Club, which, it turns out, is a vampire story. But as we follow our protagonist, the pseudonymous Art Barbara, as he grows up in Massachusetts, finds a place in the punk scene of Providence, and drifts in and out of the orbit of his friend Mercy, becoming convinced that she's a variety of vampire in the process - we also come to realize that it's also a story about conformity, and nonconformity, and what we'll do - the lengths we'll go - to fit in somewhere, anywhere. To find our people.

And, crucially, it's a story where there are competing narratives: Art's, Mercy's, and - perhaps most importantly - what may have ACTUALLY happened, outside of Art's or Mercy's patently unreliable presentations of events. (I do love a good unreliable narrator, and here, we've got several.)

Fans of A Head Full of Ghosts will undoubtedly find much to love in this one. The form is unconventional, presented a memoir - Art's - that may or may not actually be a novel, and complicated by marginalia from Mercy. Tonally - and particularly when it comes to Mercy's commentary - there's a lot here that feels like it lives in the same kind of place as the blog entries in A Head Full of Ghosts. 

A Paul Tremblay book is like a Magic Eye image: There's always something else to see if you look at it the right way. And for that reason - among many, many others - The Pallbearer's Club is a joy to read.

Just prepared to be something of an emotional train wreck by the end of it.
Was this review helpful?
This was not what I expected it to be. Normally, that’s fine. But this read as a literal manuscript. It needs some more edits and more plot points. 

That being said, Paul Tremblay is still one of my favorite authors and I will continue to read whatever he puts out. This one just wasn’t for me.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for the digital advanced reader's copy.

So, I'm never not going to read the latest Paul Tremblay. You never know exactly what you're going to get, and you don't know if you're going to love it or hate it, but you know it's going to be different.

I loved A Head Full of Ghosts, a dark family drama with possible demon possession. I was deeply upset by The Cabin at the End of the World, a survival novel with possible apocalypse. I enjoyed the propulsiveness of Survivor Song, a one-night, action-packed zombie (but also not-zombie) pandemic story. And, finally, Devil's Rock, a ghost mystery, which was probably my least favorite Tremblay novel so far.

However, despite knowing that a Tremblay book is like a box of chocolates, I definitely didn't expect a slow-moving tale of toxic friendship, medical trauma, addiction, arrested development, and vampiric folklore.

Art and Mercy's lives become entangled while Art is in high school. His deep loneliness finds a refuge in Mercy's chill coolness. Together, they share a love of punk music and find a safe space from the messiness and cruelty of the world.

Things devolve, though, as their relationship becomes parasitic - each seeming to feed off the other.

Is this simply a deeply complicated friendship that spans the tragedies and struggles of thirty years, or is it supernatural? Are they literally sucking the life force out of each other?

It depends. Is Art's book a novel or a memoir?

Tremblay leaves it up to you to decide.

This is a character-driven story. The action is sporadic and rare and, often, weird as hell. This isn't the stereotypical horror novel. At times, I genuinely wondered what the point was.

However, it was dark enough and odd enough, and Art and Mercy were compelling enough to keep me reading.

While it won't ever be one of my favorites, The Pallbearer's Club will likely stick with me for some time.

*language, adult situations
Was this review helpful?
This one wasn't really my jam.  I was bored through most of it and not particularly interested in the characters.  I may give it another chance when it is published to see the finished/fully-formatted product.

The formatting of the ARC was distracting.  Love Paul Tremblay and what he does in terms of experimentation/outside the box ideas that he brings to his work.  I am interested in seeing this one in it's finished/physical form.
Was this review helpful?
The Pallbearers Club 
by Paul Tremblay 
Pub Date: July 5, 2022
William Morrow 
Thanks to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for the ARC of this book.  
* horror  *Thriller 
A cleverly voiced psychological thriller about an unforgettable—and unsettling—friendship, with blood-chilling twists, crackling wit, and a thrumming pulse in its veins—from the nationally bestselling author of The Cabin at the End of the World and Survivor Song.
I think it's important to note that this book should be read as a physical copy. The ebook version does not read the same and was actually confusing at times with the notes embedded into the text. I think it took away from my enjoyment some. This book was also very slow-moving and it takes some time for anything to occur. I liked the characters and found the narrator funny at times.
3 stars
Was this review helpful?
A very original book from a great author! I have not read all of Paul Tremblay's books (yet) but the ones I have read have been fantastic and some of my favorites.

I loved the back and forth in this book, the way it was written was very unique and exciting. My only problem was with Netgalleys version, it was very slow to load on any device I downloaded it on.

I feel I didn't get the full impact of this book only because my ARC version was very slow loading and I am a fast reader.

I will be reading this again when the print version comes out.
Was this review helpful?
DNF @ p.86. I'm a fan of Paul Tremblay but this book just didn't grip me. Maybe it was the format of a memoir manuscript with notes, which didn't seem to add much to the story.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
Another horror grand-slam from modern master Paul Tremblay. I devour everything he writes; this one was no exception. I absolutely loved the 80s nostalgia; the too cool for school indie/punk music theme; and the POV with both characters, "Mercy" and "Art," arguing throughout whether Art's book is a memoir (Art insists it is), or fiction (as Mercy insists). The intensity between these two -- the hip, above it all older girl, and the gawky, earnest, besotted loner guy -- is so on-the-spot high school crush. But -- then they're not teenagers anymore. And the intensity is still there; the mystery persists -- who IS Mercy? How old is she, really? Where does she come from? When they reconnect in adulthood, sinister and otherworldly things happen. Mercy takes full advantage of her charm and cool-girl bluster to dismiss Art's experiences around her as "fiction," or his being high or drunk, or too imaginative. 

There is so much more I could say about this book but I'll leave it to you! Read it! YOu won't regret it.

I will say that like other reviewers I too had a hard time downloading (there's no Kindle version and the ebook wasn't available for the NetGalley app) but I got the book finally downloaded in PocketBook and it read just fine -- although Mercy's comments didn't really line up where they were supposed to in the narrative, I don't think. Also I think I may have missed some images which just didn't show up (they showed up as blank space) at the beginning of each chapter. I will def check out the print version when it is released in the summer!

Thank you so much. This was a fantastic book. I won't have any trouble selling it to horror readers as Tremblay has quite the following in my community already.
Was this review helpful?
4 Stars!

I got my first exposure to Paul Tremblay with No Sleep Till Wonderland and I admit that the only reason I read that novel was by accident.  I gave it a fair read, however, and enjoyed the novel so I decided to give Tremblay another try and make it an intentional one this time.  The Pallbearers Club had a name and premise that grabbed my attention so I dove into this novel hoping for an entertaining read even though I was not sure what to expect. 


There was nothing about Art Barbara that made him stand out in a crowd.  In a good way, at least.  People may notice the bulky brace he had to wear for his scoliosis but they would not notice him.  Ok, so he only had to wear the brace at night, but the psychological toll it took on him bore down on him all day long.  Nothing about him was cool.  He decided to start an extracurricular club at school to help with his college application and maybe give him a person or two to hang out with.  Even the club he formed, the pallbearers club whose members would be volunteer pallbearers at poorly attended funerals, was not cool.  And then she wandered into his life, drawn by one of the fliers and bearing her Polaroid camera, and nothing would ever be the same again. 


It all starts to get a bit strange when she (her name is Mercy) takes Art on a road trip to learn about a vampire legend in New England.  Art begins to suspect that there is more to Mercy than meets the eye but is unable to figure out what.  As the years march by, Mercy comes into and falls out of his life leaving Art a bit bewildered about what her presence means to him.  He starts to write a memoir (this novel) along the way to try to sort out his thoughts.  Who is Mercy?  Could she be a vampire?  What part does she play in his life?  There are but a few of the questions Art tries to answer although it may be difficult for him to find the truth given that Mercy is his proofreader. 


What exactly is The Pallbearers Club?  Now that I read the book, I can honestly say that I am not entirely sure.  There are many elements in the novel both traditional and decidedly non-traditional.  There is a definite coming-of-age theme to the novel although with the twist that it seems as if Art will never come-of-age.  There is a bit of a supernatural twist to the story although whether this is true or fantasy is never established.  There are some elements of a thriller and a whole lot of twisted (misdirected) drama.  And then there is the proofreader and the odd notes that are handwritten in the margins or between chapters.  If one is trying to determine the true nature of and your true feelings for another, why would you let the other person essentially be your editor?  That is exactly what is going on in this novel so that the story itself becomes a character in its own tale. 


The Pallbearers Club is almost a sort of sad love song to a generation that may never find itself.  The novel never really falls into a specific genre and much of the action, and the little of it that there is, takes place behind the scenes.  It could be labelled a psychological thriller but that really misses the point.  The novel is really a haunting look at the modern world that is both tragic and beautiful at the same time.  Art’s world seems to be in a steady state of unravelling and yet there is enough there to keep him pushing forward even when everything seems to be set against him.  It was sometimes annoying (with those distracting “notes” in the margins) and yet intriguing as well.  Sometimes I wanted to see what was going to happen next and other times felt compelled to keep reading with a morbid curiosity akin to passing an accident on the road.  The only certainty about The Pallbearers Club is that it will keep the reader turning the pages until the final word is read and leave the reader thinking about what happened for some time to follow.  The novel is not a great novel but it is entertaining and will give the reader some food for thought. 


I would like to thank William Morrow and NetGalley for this review copy.  The Pallbearers Club is scheduled to be released on July 5, 2022.
Was this review helpful?
Ever since an online stranger recommended A Head Full of Ghosts to me, Paul Tremblay has been one of my favourite authors. Although I often wish he’d write more conclusive endings, because the ambiguity tends to bother me, his horror stories are generally up there with the modern best. In fact, I quite enjoyed all four of his previous books, leading up to this summer’s The Pallbearers Club.

Now, I can say that I’ve read that one too. I did so for both entertainment, and for the purposes of this review.

The Pallbearers Club is the story of a fictional man named Art Barbara, although that’s not his real name. In fact, it’s just a name he gave himself, legally or not, after deciding that he needed a moniker that was as unique as it was fun to say. It helps, too, that this particular book is his memoir.

Things begin in the late 80s, during Art’s senior year of high school. There, we find the pimple covered and nearly invisible teen trying to do what he can to increase his chances of getting into college. The result is The Pallbearers Club — a small group that meets on weekends to assist with lonely folks’ funerals. By that, I mean people who don’t have family or friends, including homeless persons.

Shortly after creating the club, Art meets a stranger named Mercy, who decides to join in on the mortuary volunteering. Granted, that’s not her real name either.

Mercy is described as being a women of nondescript age, who’s in love with taking pictures of the dead. She says that it’s because it’s a hobby, then says she’s looking for proof of something. However, Art wonders if she’s something more, including perhaps a creature of the night. After all, he tends to feel worse when she’s around, thanks to heightened symptoms of his curved spine and heart murmur.

Is Mercy a vampire, or is she just a strange and misunderstood young woman?

The rest of this book chronicles Art’s life — or what he shares of it with us — from 1989 to the near present. Throughout this memoir, he chronicles his time spent with Mercy, his dreams, successes and failures, and what he really thinks about his mysterious friend.

What’s most unique about this thing, though, isn’t just that The Pallbearers Club is the memoir of a fictional guy. No, it’s actually the fact that Mercy chimes in with her thoughts on each page. She does this through crossed out words, edits and comments in the margins of every page. Then, she follows things up with a two to several page review of each chapter. These opinions range from calling the work a novel, or making fun of Art, to telling him he got things wrong. Of course, these notes and alterations also add a second viewpoint to this strange story.

Simply put, The Pallbearers Club is one of the oddest books I’ve read, and that isn’t just due to its subject matter. The format is also very unique. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

That said, I wish I could honestly tell you that I enjoyed this novel or memoir as much as some of Paul’s other books. That wasn’t the case, though. In fact, I’m left wondering how to rate it.

Was this title unique, interesting and enjoyable? Yes. For the most part. However, it also dragged at times, as Art rambled on and on, in an occasionally hard to follow nature. Parts were also ethereal and unclear. The story was also tough to truly get into, although there were times where I was glued to it.

At the end of the day, Paul Tremblay’s latest effort — appropriately titled The Pallbearers Club — is destined to be a divisive read. I appreciate the risk the author took with this project, and liked it enough. However, it’s far from my favourite of his books — at least from A Head Full of Ghosts on, because those are the only five I’ve read.

Go into this one with an open mind if you decide to read it, and expect something both weird and different. Maybe borrow it from the library first.

This review is based on an early digital copy of the book that we were provided with through NetGalley. Receiving a free copy did not affect our review.
Was this review helpful?
Art Barbara, an awkward teen with scoliosis, is writing a memoir about his volunteer pallbearers club at school. He thinks it’ll pad his college resume. Instead, he meets Mercy, a girl who changes his life and always keeps her camera on hand - even at the funeral homes. Along with eing written as Art’s memoir, this book gets a second narrator through Mercy’s editorial notes. Why not? She was there for most of the story anyway. 

I loved this book. It has compelling narrators and Paul’s signature psychologically challenging plot. My favorite part was the philosophy and commentary woven into every page. It made me think constantly. Paul Tremblay is just such a smart writer. I often caught myself thinking “oh man, this might be his best yet.” The Art-Mercy dynamic reminded me of Looking for Alaska with the loser kid and the mysterious girl that fascinates him. Getting both sides really made this story sing. I went in thinking this could be the best horror book of the year, and let me tell you, the bar has been set very high!
Was this review helpful?
This book and I fundamentally disagree about how clever it is... I found it dull, predictable, pretentious, and not at all scary or creepy. I adored 'Head Full of Ghosts,' so this was certainly disappointing.
Was this review helpful?
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following review is not in any way whatsoever meant to make fun of the book in question, nor is it meant to intentionally mimic one thing or another. Not in the way it may seem. The reviewer is, mildly put, just a really big dork, and though they do not think for one tiny moment that they're being clever with their review as presented, they do seem to think they're being clever in hiding just how much this book terrifies them, but they're not. They're scared. I'm scared. We are all of us scared.



[uh, spoiler alert? you’re giving it all away, but you’re not even aware you are, because you’re too preoccupied with trying to cram as many references as you can into your rambling, your rambling what? what are you trying to say?! show, don’t tell.]

Stories are full of bodies, yeah. Oh so many bodies. And, more so, they’re full of those bodies’ histories, their raisons d’être, as Art Barbara might say, and, if he’s saying that, he may also be saying that those bodies, some of them, the lucky ones, along with their history, they have a lingering mark, a mark left by their joie de vivre, a mark that, resting on their waxy after death faces, is sadly beautiful. And now I’m rambling like Art Barbara would, like maybe I can bring him down from the ledge, bring him back from beyond the threshold, hold his life until he’s ready for it again, until I can tell him I’m sorry somehow, we’re all sorry somehow, just please come back. One step at a time, if you must, Art, but still, still, whatever it takes, just point the way. I know you’re achin’ to be, and you don’t think you have the willpower to return and take a ride, that you think everything falls apart and you’re so beyond all shook down, standing in the rain and looking for somethin’ to do, but never quite finding it, so what’s the point, right? But I’ll help you, Art. We’ll all help you, bring you back to the swingin’ party. We’ll read your words, hear your stories, live your dreams. All this we’ll do for you. We’ll leave our books open until you’re strong enough to climb out, shake those careless nightclub jitters, and if you say you’re not strong enough, well, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

[are you even going to talk about the book? or, are you so “left of the dial” you’ve forgotten how this works? seriously, dude. right now I’m so “unsatisfied”. this is not my “favorite thing” and if you don’t get it together I’m “never talking to you again”]


Some guy from a band –– I don’t remember which one, only that it’s an SST thing –– said something to the effect that even art isn’t immortal, but

Screw that. Art is forever. For each of us, anyrate, for our own personal forevers.

Stories never die. Like vampires, yeah. And they turn us, too. They never overfeed, never completely drain us, never kill us. No. They give the power back, give us that gift. And it’s always there, in our heads and in our hearts. Our magnificent hearts. 

Thank you, Art. Thank you for sharing, for letting me in, for showing me another world. Yes, yes, yes. I’ll buy. Count me in. I will carry this with me. I will be a proud member of The Pallbearers Club.

[you just couldn’t resist, could you? and, are you seriously ending your “review” like that?!]

[[no, I couldn’t. and, yes, yes I am. I have coffins to carry.]]
Was this review helpful?
Paul Tremblay is a master of combining the impossible with the impossibly human. I loved this more than I loved Survivor Song (which is quite a lot). Honestly I can't wait fo a few months from now when I've forgotten certain details of this book so I can reread and experience them all over again.
Was this review helpful?
DNF at 40%. I can overlook the limitation of only making this available as a protected PDF, and I will not complain how slow Adobe Digital is, because I understand that is not the author/publisher's fault. I also understand about Mercy's narrative being written in red as marginalia, and how this may look different in the actual book as opposed to the e-ARC. But those are two things that I wasn't crazy about.

"The Pallbearer's Club" is billed as a supernatural metafiction. Art Barbara is writing a memoir about his last few years of high school, where he started an extracurricular club, "The Pallbearer's Club," to attend funerals of people who did not have friends and family. Mercy Brown, a college student, sees Art's flyer and joins the club. The two get up to some shenanigans, including getting high and driving around, taking Poleroid pictures, and exploring mythologies of vampires. 

I think that the blended narrative format is interesting concept, but Mercy's comments often did not add much to the story, except to say "it didn't happen like that, you made this [minor detail] up." Mercy and Art sounded almost identical in their voices. In fact, Mercy actually had some valid critiques of the memoir that Art was writing, but sadly, simply acknowledging the narrative shortcomings were not enough to keep me reading. The supernatural themes were very sparse and slow-going. I appreciate the opportunity to read it, but I think some stronger character development (more dialogue/less description, for starters) would've made this read exponentially more enjoyable for me.
Was this review helpful?