cover image Mister Lullaby

Mister Lullaby

J.H. Markert. Crooked Lane, $30.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63910-547-2

A sleepy Nebraska backwater serves as the unlikely ground zero for the eruption of a dimension’s worth of otherworldly nightmares in this high-octane supernatural thriller from Markert (The Nightmare Man). Since the mid-19th century, Harrod’s Reach has been plagued by a legacy of disappearances and deaths related to its unused local train tunnel. One of the tunnel’s last victims, before the town bricked it up, was Sully Dupree, who, now age eight, has been comatose for years following an ill-fated experience inside it. But Sully’s condition, lamented in the waking world as tragic, gives him strength in Lalaland, a realm of dreams where he and other “Seers” like him serve as gatekeepers holding at bay an incursion of nightmares into the waking world. Leading this dastardly charge is Mister Lullaby, a malignant entity who, through serial killer Teddy Lomax and his gang of malevolent “mare” infiltrators, hastens to Harrod’s Reach for a climactic showdown with Sully’s brother, Gideon, and the town’s united citizens. Markert evokes the style and substance of works from horror’s golden years with his depiction of a small town under siege by infernal forces and a large cast of well-developed characters. Not all of the elements add up, but horror fans will enjoy the rapid-fire pacing and pyrotechnic finale. Agent: Alice Speilburg, Speilburg Literary. (Nov.)