cover image The Subterranean Season

The Subterranean Season

Dale Bailey. Underland (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-1-63023-026-5

In International Horror Guild Award%E2%80%93winner Bailey's creepy, satiric twist on the campus novel, struggling West Georgia University Ph.D. student Alex Kern has failed two of his exams and is under pressure to give star football player Ulysses Moreno a passing grade. Things are rocky with his girlfriend, and all he really wants to do is smoke a bowl and get through the tedious days of teaching unappreciative students. Then he discovers a deep, dark pit in a secret room off of his dingy new office under the football stadium. When an accident in his office results in the death of a female athlete, Alex pushes her body into the pit. Soon, he's shocked to realize that everyone else acts as if she never existed. Dispatching those who threaten him gets easier and easier, but things get way out of hand after he introduces Ulysses to the pit. Bailey (The End of the End of Everything) takes on every aspect of campus life with razor-sharp glee, especially the all-too-common elevation of sports over academics, and the unforgiving hierarchy of academia. Alex's metamorphosis, from basically decent to completely unhinged, is both terrifying and fascinating, and the utterly chilling ending is nothing less than fitting. (Nov.)