Another day, another nod to Hitchcock. Another post-apocalyptic tale. And yet, never has blind terror been more apt. Bird Box is the debut novel of Josh Malerman, the lead singer of The High Strung. Heard of them? Me neither. It matters little. Bird Box was published last year through Harper Collins, following a woman called Malorie who must find a way to guide herself and her children to safety despite the potential threat from an unseen adversary. Only unseen because Malorie has refused to open her eyes for four years.
This cracking story is told via flashbacks and takes place at three different points in time; the beginning of the problem (four years prior to current events), just after the birth of the two children, and present day. Malorie raises the children the only way she can: indoors. The house is quiet. It has been for years. The doors are locked, the windows are boarded up. The children have never left the house. The monsters could still be out there.
Soon, Malorie will have to wake the children. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything. Malerman wrote the rough draft of Bird Box prior to the release of coma-inducing The Happening (2008) and far superior The Road (2009), which caused him to worry that the book might get lost in the shuffle. He needn’t have.
Bird Box is a psychological horror that is guaranteed to stay with you long after reading. True, a story in which the three protagonists are blindfolded for its duration sounds utterly ridiculous, but it’s a breath of fresh air. You’ll be just as paranoid as they are. What if the monsters have gone? What kind of future is this one, coated in darkness? Should Malorie have blinded her children at birth to prevent them from one day succumbing to the terrors she’s convinced are still out there? What will become of them when they finally remove the blindfolds? That day will come.
I read this book on a plane journey home. A hypnotising read you won’t want to put down. Short and sweet, it starts off slowly but never outstays its welcome and reaches a satisfying conclusion after some brutally unpleasant chapters. Just the way we like it. DW