DNF: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

cover to unbury carol by josh malarian
© Del Ray, 2018.


Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.


Anyone who knows me knows that Bird Box is my favorite book to date. Josh Malerman really pulled off the whole Twilight Zone feel of things. Unfortunately, this review isn’t about that book. Though I looked forward to reading this book and I was excited to get the opportunity to review an advance copy, it does not live up to what I expect from Malerman.

Everything in Unbury Carol is a cliché. From the stereotypical characters, to the very style, it is a letdown. I made it almost 40% into the book before I realized I knew the plot, the villains, and pretty much what was going to happen. Granted I could be wrong, and if I am, PLEASE correct me in the comments, but it’s a pretty straightforward “Prince Charming saves Damsel-in-Distress” scenario. Otherwise, I think it’d be a short story.

Before I begin my rant about plot though, I want to take a moment to focus on the main characters thus far. We have the old lover, Moxie. He’s your usual western outlaw. He’s regretful, he’s made some bad choices, he wants to fix them. Then you have the husband, our evil mastermind. He’s like the dragon in a “save the princess” scenario. And of course, we have Carol Evers, who basically just lays there, listening to the future laid out. It’s a Sleeping Beauty plot.

Now that I’ve mentioned that lovely device… This book absolutely crawls. We all know how short the tale of Sleeping Beauty is, whether it is Disney or Grimm. This book stretches that plot device over nearly 400 pages. The first half of it (okay, 2/5s if we’re being technical and only considering what I could read) is full of nothing and this bothers me. This is where I reiterate the fact I loved Bird Box. For every bit of Bird Box that kept you on the edge of your seat, Unbury Carol puts you to sleep.

I guess what I’m saying here is that the book doesn’t live up to my expectations. I hate, hate, hate putting down a novel that I’ve started reading, but Unbury Carol is one of those that I just cannot finish. I’d like to thank the Del Ray, NetGalley, and the author for providing me with an opportunity to review this book free of charge in exchange for honesty.

Rating: 💀

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