The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Book Club ~ 'Bird Box'

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Book Club ~ 'Bird Box'

A Hardcover Honey Book of the Week from Jocelyn

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

It may only be June, but I feel completely comfortable declaring Bird Box my favorite book of the year. Yes, I know other books may come out and be read and rock my world between now and New Year’s Eve, but I can’t imagine they will stay with me the way I know with 100% certainty Bird Box will.

You guys know I love a good post-apocalyptic tale, right? And that I like books where moms have to fight on behalf or with their kids? And books about people holed up in a small group trying to survive? And maybe something with a slight supernatural bent? Well, Bird Box has all of that – in spades.

When the book opens, we are introduced to our heroine, Malorie, who is living in a house in suburban Detroit with two children, dubbed the Girl and the Boy. All of the windows are covered in this house and the walls hold bloodstains. Malorie is prepping for a journey, though its destination, reason and method are somewhat opaque. When Malorie blindfolds both kids and herself before leaving the house, things take on an even eerier tinge and we are off and running. “Listen to me,” Malorie tells the children.  “We’re going somewhere neither of you has ever been before. We’re going farther from the house than you’ve gone before. There are things out there that will hurt you, that will hurt Mommy, if you do not listen to me, now, this morning." It’s a little darker than the speech I give my 9-year-old before I send him to the neighbors to play, for sure.

Author Josh Malerman
Almost instantly we are catapulted backwards into Malorie’s earlier days – it’s defined as “nine months before the children are born” and she’s sharing a rental house with her sister Shannon. Malorie is worrying about a missed period (been there, sister) while Shannon regales her with incidents coming across on the news – the internet is blowing up with a story people are calling “The Russian Report” in which a man attacked his friend then took his own life with a table saw from their truck bed – super grisly – and now it seems incidents have been reported not just in Russia, but in Alaska, as whatever this is seems to be migrating. A mom burying her kids alive, a man wielding a chainsaw and trying to kill the person filming him, etc. You know, “first five minutes of Dawn of the Dead remake” stuff – montage! In every case, it seems to be related to someone seeing something – but what?

Back and forth we go, from present day Malorie and her twins on their dangerous trip to past Malorie as the world breaks down around her. “The Problem” as the news dubs it always results in suicide, national curfews are mandated, people are advised to stay inside and lock their doors – and above all, NOT to look outside. When Shannon does look outside, a pregnant Malorie is on her own in short order and finds her way to a house nearby, where she meets the standard scrappy group of survivors holed up. Tom seems to be the man in charge and he tells Malorie that there’s something out there too complex for the human mind to grasp and that seeing this something, something moving, something living, even for a split second, is enough to drive a human to murder and suicide.

The house is on a river – good – and has a well – even better. And Malorie is something close to happy here on some days, feeling protected as much as one can be and comforted by Tom. The group makes blindfolded supply runs into surrounding houses. They build a warning alarm, a box of live birds that flutters and caws when whatever this something is gets too close to the house. Another pregnant woman, Olympia, arrives and finds shelter. One of the housemates, Don, observes “You oughta blind those babies. The second they come out” and while Olympia is horrified, Malorie understands Don’s horrifying words.

As Malorie and Olympia’s due date approaches and some of their housemates take dark turns indeed, we travel down the river with Malorie and her twins, in search of a haven based on a phone call before everything went completely dead. There are dark scenes, plenty of gore, suspense, interpersonal conflict, self-reflection... and monsters.

I cannot stress enough the tension this book conjured up for me. I have been recommending it to everybody I can find and I’m still looking for other people to recommend it to. I can’t imagine how much I will chew my nails to nubs when this eventually becomes a movie, as it must – though it will be a stunning trick indeed to play Malorie – how do you act with your eyes closed? How do you get through life with your eyes closed?

Hardcover Honey verdict – 5 out of 5 blindfolds for this gripping book

What are YOU reading this week?
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