Lose the Outlaw

Unbury Carol

Unbury Carol

By: Josh Malerman

Grade: C+/B-

What if you were about to be buried alive and had no way to save yourself? It’s kind of my worst nightmare and surely a lot of other people’s. Which is one of the reasons I really wanted to read this book. Carol’s best hope is her one-time love an outlaw who left her years ago and one of the two people in the world who know about her condition.

Unfortunately the other person is her scumbag of a husband whose tired of her unmanning him. And since what we see of Carol before she falls into one of her comas she’s a sweet and lovely person to him what that really means is he’s tired of living off her money with her still around.

Malerman also wrote Bird Box a book which I’m still highly interested in. Unbury Carol well- I wanted to like it more than I did. It follows three points of view. Carol while she’s in Howltown (the freaky dark place where she goes in her coma) and can hear and feel everything that’s happening to her.

Dwight (scumbag husband) who needs her in the ground super fast and doesn’t know how much longer he can hold up appearances without bursting into laughter or completely losing it. Those two were the best. Howltown is basically a nightmare come to life as Carol tries desperately to pause her fate which is something she’s never been able to do in the coma.

Dwight unravels while people around him begin to suspect and there’s the element of him being haunted by his still-living wife. I also liked the maid Farrah quiet a lot and all the little town stuff.

The thing for me was James Moxie- Carol’s outlaw ex-lover and the only other person who knows about her condition is at the end relatively useless. I mean you could have cut him and changed little to nothing about the whole story. He brings with him unfortunately Smoke an assassin whose only purpose seems to be violence and chaos.

Furthermore there’s a character called Rot who appears both to Carol in Howltown and to James. Rot could have worked in either of those stories but I failed to see how he was connected to both. To be honest my working theory about how he was appearing to James was also pointless.

Moxie also comes with the legend of a trick. The one that made him famous- everyone brings this thing up. To be fair it does get explained in a way but that didn’t really work either because I immediately started putting holes in it. Yeah, take James out, strengthen up Carol and Farrah, and I think I would have liked this a lot more.

That being said I did like the Carol, Dwight stuff. It works as a race against time. The funeral director and the Sheriff trying to get to the bottom of what doesn’t look like a mystery was a nice touch as well. And I did think the female characters were very well done I wanted more of them.

Recommend: Despite that leaning toward yes. Josh Malerman is an intriguing writer and there’s a lot that works in Unbury Carol. I’m going to check out his other two books and see how I feel about them as well.

17 thoughts on “Lose the Outlaw

  1. I can’t even understand how only 2 people in the world would know of this condition – like, not even the doctor who diagnosed her? It’s not in any medical charts somehow? And how is a coma fooling all the doctors \ undertakers who would pronounce her dead and treat her body? Weird.

  2. Fair point. Yeah, I probably edit this to have stated this is back in the Wild West so medically it makes more sense. Why they’ve never told anyone or no one knows is kind of brushed aside like we can’t trust anyone. I would have told everyone hey, this ever happens please don’t bury me 🙂

    1. Me too. I was just reading a book where the woman is allergic to people, like anyone touching her could cause her death and she doesn’t like to tell people either. And I get how that helps force things to happen in a story, but in real life I just don’t see it happening.

      1. Is that Close Enough to Touch? I want to check that one out! But definitely wouldn’t work in real life. Although I’ve known a few people that didn’t respect personal boundaries anyway and probably wouldn’t believe you. I don’t like to hug often interpreted as sure you do or I’m going to make you anyway. 🙁

  3. I’m claustrophobic and just that thought of being underground makes me uncomfortable. Being buried alive is a true nightmare of mine as well.
    I used to read / watch westerns and will keep this book in mind! 😊

  4. I can’t stand books that have characters that aren’t needed in the progression of the story. A lot of the time there are enough characters to keep track of, no need to throw someone useless in the mix!

      1. Ha ha!! Too true! I hate that anticipation, you keep thinking “they’re going to do something crazy with this character! They’re just biding their time!”. ….. Nope. Lol!

  5. I don’t know if I’d like this one lol but I am intrigued! And I remember wanting to read Bird Box but haven’t yet. I do kinda like the Weird West subgenre so there’s that… definitely tempted!

    1. Bird Box is what originally drew me to the author- though now that kind of sounds like The Quiet Place but with sight unavailable instead of sound 🙂 If you like weird this could definitely meet your quota!

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