cover image Ghoul n’ the Cape

Ghoul n’ the Cape

Josh Malerman. Earthling, $75 (732p) ISBN 978-1-73692-842-4

The human emotions that grounded bestseller Malerman’s Bird Box are absent in this offbeat fantasy epic. The Cape, a “silver-haired eccentric” described as a “vision of black cloth, a walking shadow,” enters a Manhattan bar and seeks out a patron who is known as Ghoul for his less-than-attractive facial features. The Cape persuades Ghoul to be his paid companion on a three-month cross-country trip to help him evade the Naught, a mysterious entity in the sky that the Cape fears will swallow the country. Ghoul agrees, hoping for adventure and a hefty payday, but remains skeptical that the menace is real or that what the Cape identifies as the Naught is anything but the moon. Their ensuing picaresque exploits involve a train robbery, nosebleeds spouting from the heads on Mount Rushmore, and a blood-drenched celestial man, an agent of the Naught “who had climbed out of a constellation.” Despite the existential threat of the Naught, Malerman doesn’t conjure fear here, instead dwelling in the realm of the purely weird. Rambling prose—one sentence is over 600 words long—only adds to the confusion. It’s a departure fans will struggle with in this 1,000-copy limited, signed edition. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Dec.)