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Will McIntosh. Night Shade (, $24.99 (296p) ISBN 978-1-59780-335-9

Hugo-winner McIntosh (“Bridesicle”) delivers a moving tale of individual grief and recovery against the backdrop of a devastated world. When an anthrax attack on Atlanta devastates the population, widower Finn Darby loses two of his few remaining friends. Shortly after, he finds himself randomly uttering sentences that have no meaning to him. They seem to be connected to his late grandfather, an abusive man who created the comic strip that Darby now writes against his grandfather’s dying wishes. As these bouts of babbling increase in frequency and length, Darby discovers other sufferers, including a washed-up rock star and a waitress who might be possessed by Darby’s dead wife. Darby, with his personal grief serving as synecdoche for the entire city, is forced to confront his guilt over his wife’s death and his co-opting of his grandfather’s work. From a premise designed for over-the-top bombast, McIntosh pulls a quiet, un-treacly, and often beautiful tale of complex love and grief. (Feb.)