A prescient, insidious horror novel that takes sheer terror to a whole new level.

SURVIVOR SONG

When a virulent and potent form of rabies upends life as we know it in Massachusetts, a pregnant woman and her pediatrician must fight for survival.

Tremblay reached rare new highs in the horror genre with the superbly creepy novel The Cabin at the End of the World (2018) and the Twilight Zone–esque story collection Growing Things (2019). Now, in the midst of a real-life health crisis, Tremblay delivers an eerily prophetic story about a mass outbreak of a rage-inducing virus and the havoc that ensues—basically, he's gone full-on Stephen King by way of 28 Days Later. The story opens in a small, woodsy community south of Boston where what seemed like a relatively mild rabies problem has jumped to humans, who are driven to violent rages and overtaken by a compulsion to bite as many other victims as possible to spread the disease before they eventually succumb and die within a short time. One of our protagonists is Natalie, a very pregnant woman whose husband is violently murdered by one of the outbreak victims right before her eyes. Desperate, bitten, and infected herself while also in shock, she reaches out to her pediatrician, Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, to help her get a dose of the rabies vaccine before she has the baby or succumbs to the illness. Now it’s a race against time to save Natalie and the baby, all while communities are being ravaged by violence. Meanwhile, the outbreak is exacerbated by “a myopic, sluggish federal bureaucracy further hamstrung by a president unwilling and woefully unequipped to make the rational, science-based decisions necessary.” Encounters with well-meaning strangers and near-death escapes are punctuated by Natalie’s sweet recorded messages to her unborn child. A cinematic scope, scenarios grounded in the real world, and a breathless pace make this thriller one of the must-read titles of the summer.

A prescient, insidious horror novel that takes sheer terror to a whole new level.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-267916-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

HIDDEN PICTURES

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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