cover image Spin a Black Yarn

Spin a Black Yarn

Josh Malerman. Del Rey, $18 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-23786-1

Bestseller Malerman (Bird Box) returns with a chilling volume of five horror novellas crafted with a perfect mix of intrigue, disgust, tension, and, of course, fear. Echoing such horror greats as Shirley Jackson, the opening tale follows a brother and sister from childhood to old age as the brother tries to make sense of his sister’s eponymous claim that “Half the House Is Haunted.” Malerman’s narratives succeed through not revealing too much—there’s no excessive gore, no jump scares or cheap tricks. Instead, he allows pressure to slowly build and refuses to let it break even when the stories conclude. This technique shines in “Argyle,” in which a man on his deathbed confesses to his wife and children that his whole life has been spent just barely restraining himself from committing brutal murders. It’s a classically engrossing horror story with a shocking twist. “Egorov” is presented as a true account in translation from the Russian of a murder and its unlikely consequences, while both “Doug and Judy Buy the House Cleaner” and “The Jupiter Drop” tend more toward sci-fi while still delivering plenty of scares. This is everything one wants out of a horror collection. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Aug.)