cover image Pearl


Josh Malerman. Del Rey, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-23783-0

Bestseller Malerman (Bird Box) offers a muddy, meandering horror tale that nevertheless contains some memorably upsetting images. The residents of small town Chowder, Mich., grapple with the presence of Pearl, a telepathic pig with the ability to control the minds of humans and drive them mad with hallucinations. Among those affected are a farmer’s daughter who fights to protect her family from the pig that terrified her in her youth, a trio of stoned teenagers who explore Pearl’s farm only to uncover mind-melting horrors, and a broken businessman who must finally confront the malevolent force that has haunted him for a decade. As the bodies pile up, the townspeople’s paths converge at Pearl’s barn, where they must maintain enough sanity to defeat Pearl once and for all. The novel suffers from thin characterization and a lack of narrative momentum, and though Malerman’s exclamatory style lends itself well to the scarier moments, the story never quite manages to work its way around to coherence. This is best suited for Malerman’s die-hard fans. [em]Agent: Kristen Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Oct.) [/em]