cover image The Beast You Are

The Beast You Are

Paul Tremblay. Morrow, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-306996-1

These 15 invigorating horror shorts from Tremblay (The Pallbearer’s Club) showcase the author’s imagination and versatility. Two are radically different ghost stories: in “Ice Cold Lemonade 25¢ Haunted House Tour: 1 Per Person,” the narrator reflects on the youthful experiences that haunt his adult self, while “I Know You’re There” explores the ways in which grief repeatedly reshapes a character’s perceptions of reality. There are also two prescient pandemic stories, both originally published before the Covid-19 outbreak: “The Blog at the End of the World” works backward chronologically through online posts about a mysterious epidemic to form an incisive critique of the dissemination of disinformation on social media; “The Last Conversation” delivers a poignant sci-fi riff on the difficulty of letting a loved one go. The brilliant title novella takes the form of an animal fable, laced with references to fear-mongering authorities and cultish believers that resonate deeply with the contemporary zeitgeist. Whether he’s writing a subtly disarming tale in the manner of Shirley Jackson (“The Party”) or a grisly monster story (“The Large Man”), Tremblay draws well-developed characters whose recognizable humanity makes it easy for readers to accept the weird events happening around them. This will be a smash with horror fans. Agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell. (July)