Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Review | Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

Unbury Carol is a horror/western novel from Josh Malerman.


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.


I have been hyped up on the Malerman this year after having read Bird Box. When I heard what Unbury Carol was going to be about, I could not have been more excited about it.

The Strengths

The premise of Unbury Carol was unique and interesting. The main character Carol slips into comas that make her appear to be dead. Carol's husband decided to use the opportunity to pass her off as dead so he could bury her and steal her fortune.

The scenes I enjoyed most were told from Carol’s perspective. Unfortunately, these were not the focus of Unbury Carol, and I would have loved to have more from Carol.

Even when I knew Unbury Carol wasn’t working for me, it was able to hold my attention.

The Weaknesses

There wasn’t a lot of character development for any of the characters so I was frustrated with their actions and confused about their motivations. I had no reason to root for Carol. I still don’t know her even after having read the book.

The pacing was slow until the halfway point, but it did finally pick up and hold until the end.

The most interesting part of the ending (Carol’s fate) was told to the reader. I would have loved a lot more show throughout the book.

After the intense reading experience of Bird Box and the assumption that being buried alive would be a large focus of this one, I was disappointed that Unbury Carol wasn’t a suspenseful read. The western aspect took me by surprise.

I wish there had been a lot more world building both inside Carol’s coma world and outside in this western setting. I would have loved to know more about the coma world just because I was fascinated by it, but I needed more information about the outside world just to understand the setting.

Overall, Unbury Carol was a miss for me, but Josh Malerman is still on my must read list.

3/10: Didn't Work For Me

Review copy provided by publisher

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20 comments:

  1. This was one I was keen on but I never received a copy and after reading this review and a rather luke warm review from Mogsy too then maybe I'll hold off buying a copy. Shame though - it held such promise.
    Lynn :D

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  2. I’m still interested in this one but it’s good to know it’s got its issues.

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    1. I think it does help to have the right expectations going into it.

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  3. I'm going to give this one a shot but it is not sounding super tempting to me.

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    1. Hey, it's Josh Malerman. You have to give it a try. :)

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  4. It is an interesting premise, though. And what a great title! I just wish it had exceeded your expectations rather than fallen short.

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    1. Yeah, the build up for this novel had a lot going for it! I wish it could have lived up to it all for me, but that happens.

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  5. I was also a bit irked that the focus wasn't more on Carol, but I also felt that her chapters were a bit drab compared to the other POVs. Once I accepted that the story was shifting to Moxie, I started enjoying myself a little more, I think his fascinating experiences on the journey was what saved this book for me.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I'm glad Moxie saved the day for you. I agree the second half was much better than the first half. I had too much pent-up misery by the time the story picked up, and I never managed to overcome it.

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  6. Oh rats, I keep reading bad reviews and I have a review copy. It seems most readers are thinking it's going to be one story but it turns out to be very different. I still plan on reading it, mostly because I'm curious if I'll enjoy it or not!

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    1. I know how you are feeling. I saw some DNFs early on that made me nervous, but then I saw some really great reviews just before I went into reading it. I had high hopes that I would be on the loving it side. I agree with you being curious and still wanting to read it.

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  7. Oh I didn't realize this was The Bird Box author at first! Interesting. Yikes I still haven't read THAT yet. Sorry to hear this one didn't work though... I'm not sure it would for me either, judging from your review. I'll read Bird Box first for sure.

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    1. Yes, pleeeeease read Bird Box. I want to hear all of your thoughts!

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  8. Yeah, that's the problem with having the main character be in a coma thing---we hardly got to know her. But despite the slowness and the issues, it still held my attention too!

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    1. I feel like there were a lot of missed opportunities to get to know Carol, her mother, and their motivations for keeping Carol's condition a secret.

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  9. Oh no, I keep hearing bad things about this one. I'll still read it but now I'm worried. Of course I've been known to seriously dislike books others love so maybe this one will be the opposite - but I doubt it!

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    1. I agree with you. You should still read it because I would if I were you! But I'll be honest with you - it's not one that I would recommend to you. I hope you wind up on the good side of this one!

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  10. I actually really enjoyed this one, but it was quite different and I can easily see your points about what didnt work for you. I think the concept is what pulled me in, her lack of control and vulnerability

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    1. I would have loved to see more of Carol and her vulnerability. There was a great concept in there, but the execution was bad for me. I'm so glad it worked for you!

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