cover image The End of the Sentence

The End of the Sentence

Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard. Subterranean (, $20 (176p) ISBN 978-1-59606-679-3

Malcolm Mayes flees the ruin of his old life to start over in tiny Ione, Ore. after buying a house long-distance for $3,000. The price isn’t low just because the house is a fixer-upper. It also comes with a serious obligation: the mysterious Dusha Chuchonnyhoof, who conjures letters in the house (which he claims is his), saying that he has been in prison for 117 years. He also claims that the end of his sentence is approaching and that he and Malcolm are bound together. If Malcolm wants his dead son returned to him, he must perform a gruesome task for Chuchonnyhoof. Headley and Howard manage to throw Malcolm and the reader headfirst into the darkness while making it feel like a gradual, incremental journey into the bizarre worlds of Chuchonnyhoof’s letters and Ione itself. Even the pleasant things—the friendly librarian Lischen, the house spirits who leave Malcolm food and drinks—feel ominous in the coauthors’ stark but lyrical prose. Ultimately Malcolm and the reader must decide whether this is dark magic or something stranger altogether. Agents: for Headley, David Gernert and Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company; for Howard, Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Oct.)