Audiobook Review: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Published by Penguin Random House Audio on April 10th 2018
Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.
Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.
And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.
Unbury Carol is a wonderful story that takes you into the mind of Carol, a woman with a condition that causes her to have episodes where she appears to be dead. She goes into a coma like state, her breathing slows to the point of being almost undetectable. From the outside, she seems dead, but she remains fully aware of her surroundings. She can hear and remember conversations that are held around her, but she can’t respond. It’s a living nightmare, having your mind and awareness held captive in her paralyzed body.
This book is not going to be for everyone. It is a slow burn and the conflict is not an adrenaline rush type of suspense. It is a psychological horror that really focuses on Carol’s character and the fears and risks her condition presents. She lost her first love, James Moxie, due to her condition as he just couldn’t handle the stress of watching the woman he loves die again and again, always worried if she would come back. After this, she was very selective in who she told, worried that other’s may leave as well. After the death of her dear friend John, the only person who knew of condition in her present day, was her husband Dwight. Honestly, I don’t know what she saw in this guy. It quickly becomes clear to the reader that Dwight is planning to stage her “death”. Instead of protecting her while her condition runs its course, he plans her funeral and arranges to essentially bury her alive. And knowing full well she is completely aware of his plans, but until her episode wears off (which takes days), she can only protest silently within her own head. No one can hear her. No one can help her. She is alone, and he knows it.
What Dwight didn’t count on is word getting out to Moxie, who has become a infamous outlaw since his days with Carol. Moxie may have left Carol once, but that flame they had is still there enough, he plans to stop her burial, certain she is still alive. It becomes a race against time for Moxie to make it to their town to save Carol, and Dwight will do whatever he can to prevent Moxie. Sounds exciting, right? I want to again issue a reminder that even though this sounds like it can be an adrenaline pumping book, it’s not. It is a slow burn, the conflict is somewhat subdued. It is really about the characters, how warped and selfish Dwight is, how Moxie may be an outlaw, but his love for Carol makes him more of a hero. And how Carol lives and survives with this condition that holds her prisoner within her own body.
I really enjoyed the voice and tone of this story, I found it to be captivating and fresh. I loved the audio narration as well, it was very easy to listen to, the performance drew me in, gave extra life to the words in the story. I definitely recommend this one to readers looking for a character focused slow burn psychological horror. I think this one would actually have appeal to readers that normally shun books with a horror label, as it is quite different.