cover image The Night Parade

The Night Parade

Ronald Malfi. Kensington, $15 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0386-6

In a dreary story that never finds its footing, David Arlen watches as present-day America falls prey to Wanderer’s Folly, a disease that addles the mind shortly before a gruesome death. His daughter, Ellie, might have the cure, but he’ll risk everything and everyone to keep her safe from those who want to control her. Malfi (Little Girls) slows the pace with constant flashbacks that fill in mostly needless backstory, only occasionally vividly describing the horror caused by the Folly. The maturity of David’s young daughter, an eight-year-old with what may be supernatural powers, is supposed to be creepy, but she mostly comes across as precocious, especially when she drives the moral message home. Readers will struggle to believe in David’s unlikely ability to avoid the U.S. government despite his extensive use of cell phones and public places. The journey from set to set of predictable characters (corrupt hotel owner, scary members of the National Guard, cultists, survivalists) isn’t worth the payoff in a poor mixture of philosophy and horror that doesn’t engage. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Aug.)